How to Peel An Orange

by Charles Venable

My dad caught me in the kitchen
while I bisected an orange
with a butter knife;
he snatched it from my hands.

The air smelled of sweat and citrus,
reminded him of days
when miles
of orange groves stretched from Orlando to Ocala.

His thumb pressed into the navel with a squelch,
the crack of an egg
and the scent of rawness.
His thumb hooked in the fruit’s guts

but the rind was ripped open,
the peel stripped like the girl
who brought him into the dirty trailer
growing beside the orange groves.

She taught him how to be a man.
Only the pulp remained,
a mass of skin and nerves –
exposed spasming.

It slipped from his hand.

Well that’s how you peel an orange.
Use your hands.

He left me holding the knife,
the orange rotten on the floor.


Charles Venable is a storyteller from the Southeastern United States with a love of nature and a passion for writing. He believes stories and poems are about getting there, not being there, and he enjoys those tales that take their time getting to the point.