Skip to content

** Members get 25% off Books **



Lemon Studies in Nine Segments





The end of a lemon is a set of pursed lips.


If you put two together – they look ridiculous –

as if posing for a photo shoot.

One may be placed adjacent – to kiss

the side of the other’s face while it looks ahead.

Or – they could be mouth to mouth –

spineless yellow porcupines – a kind

of children’s toy – the latest craze for Christmas.


It’s hard to take them seriously like this.





If you turn the lemon vertical – the end

becomes the summit of a mountain

or an iceberg tip – all the dangerous stuff

hidden underneath in its yellow underbelly.

Icy sort of works. It’s straight out of the fridge.





What I imagined – before I had one in my hand –

was the weight of it – something that stayed put –

that didn’t roll away – with clear ends – defined.





At first I saw an old woman – pock-marked –

but it turns out she’s still young.

Her pores are large – her flesh hard – virile.

She speaks of other places and a life

I do not know – a faint fragrance hanging lightly

over her if you breathe it in nice and slow.

Her skin is zest – enthusiasm. She is the sun.





Always the sign for something else – lemon

can mean virtually anything these days – sex –

of all sorts – drugs – an old car – a fool. A sign

filled to overflowing or emptied entirely of itself.






This is my lemman – my Valentine –

all that time ago when I was wondering 

if anyone would know it came from me –

when I had no one in particular in mind

to send it to – this idea –  some small thing

with me inside – like a poem – or nothing

at all – if no one took or takes it up.





A lemon knows how to occupy its space –

although completely unaware of this.

That’s what my lover said about me once.





A lemon has history and health benefits

after all. The sailor’s friend – crossing oceans

to save teeth and bones – from Assam to Calcutta –

perfuming market stalls and tables – flavouring

banquets and the simplest of meals.





Limón – limone – zitronengelb – citron –

defined the world over by the colour

of its skin – its unique essence encoded.


To find all that it holds – its difference –

you must cut it open – consume it.

Skin is a promise.


The end with the scar of the stalk

is a broken




Emma Hellyer has worked for the Council of Europe in France as a writer, press officer and communications adviser since 1997. She has previously worked as a journalist and a teacher. Her poetry has been twice shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, but has been previously unpublished. She has been awarded our special Unpublished Poet prize.


Carol Ann Duffy Says:

‘Lemon studies...’ is quite an ambitious poem, with echoes of Wallace Stevens’ ‘Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird’. I love that first line, about the lemon’s ‘pursed lips’. This is a good example of the kind of original poem that stayed with me – and sustained my interest as I read on wanting to know where she would take the idea next.



Older Post
Newer Post
Close (esc)


Use this popup to embed a mailing list sign up form. Alternatively use it as a simple call to action with a link to a product or a page.

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now