This morning after breakfast I was still hungry. It’s mid-January, I live in Arizona, and there are orange trees in the back yard so loaded with fruit the branches droop low enough for the rabbits to reach them. The oranges have been tempting me for a while, but the last time I tried one, it was too early. The flesh was dry and tough, and it was so bitter it took at least 15 minutes before my eye stopped twitching and I could pull my cheeks out of a hard core pucker.
Different story today. When I got close to the tree, I could smell that they were ready. I chose an orange near the bottom of the tree; those ripen first, and when I picked it, it nearly fell off the limb into my hand.
It’s orange season, all right. I was a little hesitant with my first bite, but as soon as my teeth broke through the skin, “Hello, Larry!” It was exquisitely, perfectly, sweetly ready. The flavor was fresh and vibrant, and I wanted to stuff the whole orange in my mouth to fill it with the flavor of happy sunshine. That’s what the orange tasted like … Happy Bright Perfect Sunshine.
There’s is a lot of ugliness going on around Arizona these days. That orange, grown in Arizona soil, not only satisfied my hunger, it made me feel hopeful.
In honor of my morning orange, I’m happy to share one of my favorite poems:
Peeling an Orange
by Virginia Hamilton Adair
Between you and a bowl of oranges I lie nude
Reading The World’s Illusion through my tears.
You reach across me hungry for global fruit,
Your bare arm hard, furry and warm on my belly.
Your fingers pry the skin of a navel orange
Releasing tiny explosions of spicy oil.
You place peeled disks of gold in a bizarre pattern
On my white body. Rearranging, you bend and bite
The disks to release further their eager scent.
I say “Stop, you’re tickling,” my eyes still on the page.
Aromas of groves arise. Through green leaves
Glow the lofty snows. Through red lips
Your white teeth close on a translucent segment.
Your face over my face eclipses The World’s Illusion.
Pulp and juice pass into my mouth from your mouth.
We laugh against each other’s lips. I hold my book
Behind your head, still reading, still weeping a little.
You say “Read on, I’m just an illusion,” rolling
Over upon me soothingly, gently moving,
Smiling greenly through long lashes. And soon
I say “Don’t stop. Don’t disillusion me.”
Snows melt. The mountain silvers into many a stream.
The oranges are golden worlds in a dark dream.