Poetry 2010 / Volume 41

The Orange Era — Hailey Malone

Once upon a time there were orange trees in Kansas, fruit
sun-colored and juicy and perfectly round, so round that,
as the rumor goes, Sandy Koufax once struck out seven
in a row with a Kansas orange. Seven up and seven down,
sinkers, splitters, the orange was dancing over the plate that day.

The Orange Era it was called, back when the Dodgers still
went home to Brooklyn at night and the A’s pulled into
Union Station after a long trip out east, when the crowds would
catch foul oranges in their newsboy caps like Willie Mays
and smell like citrus after every game.

It all ended in 1967 when the A’s fled Kansas City for the
West. They took the orange trees with them, as legend
tells it, because that very night the trees were struck with a
sudden blight and the climate shifted, too much rain, too cold
to grow an orange, least of all one that would break properly.

As the A’s went so would the trees, they were knotted
together back when things were mythical, when fans would
wait around for hours after the game for Sandy
to initial the rind with his thumbnail, when trains would
head east through the city and if the light was right
the oranges gave off a glow, sun-colored and round,
blurry and spinning headlong home.

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