Elena Croitoru OH Competition

Elena Croitoru

Open House Competition 2019: Third Place


The day they came for him, I was given
a tangerine at school. He acted like my father, the way

people do when they think they made me.
I bit the glossy citrus skin, its oil

tasted like blood mist on my lips.
I thought our bodies have nothing

as soft as the linings of tangerines. They shot him
with machine guns while I ate

honey-laced watery flesh. Bullets spun
inside each organ like electrons,

tunnelling into his flesh until he fell.
The executioners would not forgive him

no matter how many times he died.
They pulled him by his hair

as I pulled white threads
from the empty tangerine heart so they

would not get stuck between my teeth.
I discarded the bullet-riddled peel

as they discarded him, not knowing
we would never leave his wake.

Elena Croitoru is based in Kent. She has an MSt in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge and her work has appeared in Southword and other magazines. She has been shortlisted for the Alpine Fellowship, Gregory O'Donoghue Prize, Wasafiri New Writing Prize, Bath Flash Fiction Award, Emerging Writer Award and other prizes. She won second place in the Bart Wolffe poetry competition and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. You can find her on Twitter: @elenacroitoru