Oranges

By | 1 June 2022

Oranges were charged this morning. Last night I read
a famous poem about oranges and this morning you shrugged
a cluster of them over your shoulder
as if they were a sack of gifts or coal burning
through their netted bag as the orange in the poet’s hand
did at the end of the famous orange poem. Yesterday too
I ate oranges in bed.
Over your shoulder the oranges went while
you insisted they be my contribution
to Naughty Santa at a Christmas Party
I was planning to attend with many guests
I’d never met and worried would be lawyerly
types which S misheard as loyally types
thinking I was anxious over how fiercely
they may defend one another
and not how they may scorn, prosecute or delight in
my bag of oranges which, in writing this, I will now
have to bring to the game and perhaps,
after a series of swaps and steals
land the oranges in their rightful lap,
have to justify why a bag of them is
incalculably valuable, how they glow
in poems and on the tree in my yard
which I’m very far away from now,
meaning they glow in the mind also,
how they can be juiced or cut into wedges that fit along
the teeth once the flesh is bitten out,
how they can be tossed
in salad, gorged on at half-time or sizzle
into perfume when the oily skin is condemned
to fire, how in the famous poem
the poet even makes up for the disparity
in the change they are carrying and the price
of a chocolate bar they want to buy
for their girlfriend with an orange, how
he pays with an orange, which is not to demean the gift
of oranges by suggesting they are valuable because
they can be used as currency since oranges
are only ever born
not asked into that cruel ordering
of the world, how there is a video of Louise
Bourgeois peeling an orange while reciting
a story about her father
who made a cruel joke by telling dinner guests he would
produce a portrait of his daughter from an orange
and proceeded to cut a figure from the peel, carefully aligning the genitals
with the hard bark-like nub where the orange was once attached
to its tree, a belly-button of a kind, scarred connection to another
life, which, when inverted, protrudes in a series of woven white
fibres the same substance as the white fibres
surrounding the peeled fruit, so that when he flipped
his cutout, which he gendered a woman by its lack
of any protrusion, the effigy bore a large erection, how Louise
cooly dismisses her father, his crassness, how the peel she cut
in the video to demonstrate his party trick is now under glass
dry, curling and brownish,
its female body, according to him, facing out to the world,
how we decided to drop roughly skinned orange halves
in a blender making a thick orange mash we poured
through a sieve into glasses while your daughter, my friend,
scooped the pulp into her mouth,
how all our hands were sticky
and the water we washed them in was warm, how my colleague
at a high school where we worked as caretakers
would peel an orange every morning on our break
with a small knife into a perfect unbroken spiral
and every day our friend who worked there also would attempt
the same spiral and never achieve it, how we knew it
to be a skill made all the more wondrous by our clumsiness
or ineptitude or lack of practice, how in one telling
it’s a complicated way of peeling
an orange and in another it’s the story of a life,
how whenever you moved you were moved by others, manoeuvred
until you resembled something unbelievable, a spiral hewn
from a sphere, how it was, at times, sweet,
aromatic and bright, bright, bright.

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