Ode to Orange

“It is not, in my view, a very good
novel,” asserted Anthony Burgess, ink-
slinger of A Clockwork Orange, whose pages
pon­tif­i­cate our need for the free­dom to choose
evil. Is there any doubt Tony chose
the wrong wave­length, the wrong
pro­duce? And besides, who wouldn’t,
given a choice, rather read about
Protestantism sewing itself into
Irish flags, an itty-bitty ant trudg­ing around
the rind of a cer­tain cit­rus to demon­strate
the uni­verse is finite and for­ever, ched­dar
man­u­fac­tur­ing, or the manic Orange Bowl
help­ing to end the Depression? Oh, I sing paeans
for marigolds, Titan’s clouds, 10,000 male
Julias released, the insides of man­gos, hum­mocks
cov­ered in daylilies, apri­cot sher­bet
on a Thursday, leaves on their last legs, Kenya—
where they call the color chungwa—on the globe
my Grandpa Guido gave me. Give me
sea pens, zest, cock-of-the-rocks, jack-
o’-lanterns with blaz­ing eyes. Last October, Lisa,
the sar­cas­tic love-of-my-life, got gold­fish
and con­ferred the monikers
“Lime” and “Plum”; the inno­cent things
were belly-up and toilet-bowl
bound the next week. Don’t we give
our pre­cious atten­tions to stuff bend­ing us
blue? And don’t we slump on the sofa, wait­ing out
our lit­tle lives in a world as jaded and bruised
as we can stand it? Well, let my sun­rays mix
with san­guine, let ten times more life taste
like peach meat, let mir­rors reflect and release
that nanome­ter tint to things hold­ing in
that hue like a breath, because the Lord, bored
with cre­ation, bel­lowed “Let there be
orange!” and then there was—filling the sky
that first night, dot­ting trees the third day—
and it was good, so damn good
it could never, thank Heaven, be damned.

-Matt Zambito, Birmingham Poetry Review

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