April 15 – Oranges

Internet’s been down at my house since the big storm Saturday night, so I’m backlogged posting. Here goes…


Oranges: An Intellectual Biography


1.
Knock knock
Who’s there?
Banana
Banana who?
Banana banana

Knock knock
Who’s there?
Banana
Banana who?
Banana banana

Knock knock
Who’s there?
Orange
Orange who?
Orange ya glad I didn’t say banana?


2.
In third grade I noticed
that orange was both name and color
and I couldn’t let go of knowing.
I tried this with other foods.
I called grapes purples.
Good.
I called red apples reds
but then what about tomatoes
or cherries?
Yellows – bananas, but also yellow
apples
Greens – apples, again, but also maybe
spinach
Peach – yes!
But why only oranges and peaches?
Where had these names come from and who
decided and why did it stick? In another language
what would they be called?
I couldn’t let go of the asking and as it turns out
I never did.


3.
Laura got an orange as a present
at Nellie’s birthday party
and took it home to share
with her little sister.

I got a dollar
for every A on my report card
and went to the dime store
and bought my little sister
a stickhorse so we
could go riding together.


4.
Nothing rhymes with orange he said.

I tried orangutan. It worked.
On paper.
Say this for me!
O-rang-uh-tang

Oh.
Why is there no g at the end?


5.
Ha! he said. See, I told you!
I tried. Words are made of sounds
and some other word ought to have
that sound.
Nothing.
I started reading aloud words
in my dictionary and
the encyclopedia set I got
as a present when my dad
got the union job.
Nothing.
So I went on, as always, reading
every word in front me,
obsessively,
and one morning egg
caught my eye.
Why egg?
Why not egu-guh?
I said egu-guh for months because
that was how it should have been
and my brain could not
let it go.
Weird, but then I was already
that weird smart girl.
These days I would SO
be labeled autistic.


6.
Scurvy was the scourge
of the British navy. Now
we know to eat oranges.


7.
Tangerines!


8.
Oranges are called naranja
in Spanish, and the color orange
is anaranjado. My orange is
aorangedo?


9.
Sometimes an orange looks so good
and then you peel it and inside
it is withered, nearly hard,
and bitter


10.
My Heart

My heart is like an orange
you have peeled
and sucked dry.
I will not forgive you
because it was
so sweet
and so warm.


11.
The bus had been driving through orchards
for 10 minutes before I paid attention.
Oranges! Grove after grove of oranges!
On trees! Just like apples!
Ok, so it is ORANGE COUNTY.
But still—I hadn’t known
they’d look so familiar.


12.
Why grove and not orchard?


13.
Lesbian Concentrate
Lesbians for Our Justice
don’t cry for me, Sister Nita
life passin’ you by while rules enslave ya



14.
Clementines!


15.
Pumelos!

and now I understand the physiology of the orange
more clearly, as I better understood how my mouse,
Squeaker, moved her hands to wash herself after observing,
years later, my rat Bubonic do the same. As tigers show us
house cats, as love shows us like.


16.
too many carbs


17.
too much acid


18.
can’t take with fexofenadine


19.
My heart was an orange,
so sun-ripe and sweet,
and she did rip its peel
and then rip each segment free
suck it dry
and throw it out.

She did not leave a note
asking for
my forgiveness.


20.
can one have scurvy of the heart?


21.
Why is an orange called orange?
I’ve never found out. I could google it
on my G1 and have ten answers
in two minutes.

But I think I’m smarter
for the not yet knowing.

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