A Feral Orange Grove in Sarasota

Winter in Sarasota by Nick Vagnoni

When sacks of oranges showed up
in my Miami Publix
I thought of Sarasota:
          On my way to the supermarket at night
          my windows up
          against the burnt-piss smell
          that drifts down from the Tropicana plant,
          the smell that actually turns orange in the fog
          lit by the glow of the airport.
          Stepping out of my car
          into the cold, sparkling parking lot,
          that odor, replaced by the feral orange grove
          blooming across the highway—
          the last dusty rows, thick with man-tall weeds,
          girded by new condos, a medical center,
          a retention pond.
Six years there, now six months gone
I wonder if I’ll miss this place when I go,
which smells I’ll write about six years from now.
Diesel and jasmine blowing through my parking garage?
Goat curry and hash in my building’s hallways?
          That night I dreamt of biking through dark neighborhoods,
          past old satellite dishes roped with Spanish moss,
          under sagging powerlines beaded with tillandsias,
          the smell of orange and grapefruit blossoms
          blanketing yards, gates and fences.
          I dreamt of orange stands at flea markets,
          sacks of Honeybells and Murcotts,
          clear nectar, sections pulling apart like hesitant lips mouthing words.
          I dreamt of waking from a tent in that dewy grove
          and walking early through rows of trees
          encrusted with small white blossoms
          while honey bees still drowsed in their hives.

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