I peeled back
The opulent orange skin,
And the
fresh fragrance,
Burst into the air.
The glittering juice dribbled
Over my fingers,
Like sunlight spills,
In fantastic fiery droplets,
Into a dim room,
And onto the table,
Now sticky and sweet.
The worldly version of
The sun.
And as I held
It in my palm,
I wondered,
If I could hold
The sun
Like this too.
And as I peeled
The rind
With my bare hands,
I imagined,
Just briefly,
Peeling the sun
Like this too.
Sometimes I like to
That maybe,
Apollo felt pity,
For humans.
Not being able
To taste the
sweet, succulent sun.
And so maybe, he
Was the one
Who made it.
A Citrus,
Of bubbling fire,
Like a ferocious tiger,
Curled into a ball.
Sour and tangy,
Yet tender and saccharine.

Five boxes of clementines
Sitting on the counter.
Five boxes of
Gorgeous, glowing amber gems.
And the sun peeked
Through the window,
Grasping at the fruit,
Like he wanted it
And I picked
One up,
Rough skin touching mine.
And right then,
It wasn’t just
A clementine.
It was a colour,
A song,
A voice,
A painting,
A ball of yarn,
A seed,
An “I love you”.
And for a moment,
A fleeting second,
I had the urge
To steal them all,
And stash them away.
Like jewels,
Impossible to eat.
Like gold,
Impossible to share.
And then,
For a moment,
A flitting instant,
I had the urge
To take them all,
And give them away.
Like food,
Impossible to keep.
Like good news,
Impossible to save.

And I’ve always thought
Of clementines as
Being the fruit of
I don’t know exactly.
Maybe it’s the smell,
Maybe it's the colour,
Or maybe it’s when,
You rip into the
Ripe, ruby flesh,
And end up with
Two halves.
One bigger than
The other.
Juice running down
Your hands,
Like red,
hot blood.
And you look around,
And look down,
And hand a half,
To the random girl
At the laundromat,
To the old man
On the bench,
To the homeroom teacher,
Alone in the classroom,
To the friend sitting
On your bed,
To the sibling
Who stole your sweater,
To the parent
Who bought it.
And without even knowing,
You had given them
The bigger half.



This poem won the September 2024 Monthly Poetry Prize! 

Poetry Editor Micheline Maylor writes about "Clementines" by Maryam Bagh:

Poetry is attentive to line break and comparison, either through similie or metaphor in a way that prose is not. Clementines is a generous journey of reflection through the examination of an an everyday object that resists expectation or expected comparison. The crisp line breaks create space for the contemplative act before moving to the next phrase or image. Clementines become celestial, growing large as the sun and small as sweetness in the narrator’s hand. Clementines become “a colour, a song, a voice, a painting, a ball of yarn, a seed, and an I love you.”  The narrator of the poem breaks traditional expectations of the fruit to embody human generosity and love itself through metaphoric comparison.  This poem was a real delight because of the ways it surprises and the ways it pays attention to poetic craft. 

A young woman in a light green head scarf

Maryam Bagh

Grade: 12 / CEGEP I
Loyola Catholic Secondary School
Mississauga, ON

“My mom would always make sure to buy clementines for me growing up, and I always felt it was her way of saying ‘I love you’. The fruit means a lot to me because it brings people together, since it’s something to share with those around you. I wanted to express my feelings about clementines by writing them down so I could remember how I felt about them even when I’m older and sharing fruit with family becomes harder to do. ”

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