I once loved orange, the color
of my mother’s mohair sweater
and my father’s flannel shirt.
Snuggled between them, scent
of wool and autumn leaves,
we wandered Berkshire days.
I once loved the fiery orange sun that sunk
on a pink feather bed over Long Island Sound,
seagulls gliding above.
I once loved sweet chinas, juice dripping orange
down my wrists as I peeled their thick skin
in the back seat of a rickety Jeep, engine straining
as we climbed Puerto Rico’s cordillera into the clouds
fertile orange earth
peeking between green.
Orange was once sacred–
like the robes of Buddhist monks,
like a pinch of saffron in Persian stews,
like achiote, coloring a caldero of arroz
steaming on the stove
while Danny Rivera croons
on the radio.
You have taken orange and turned it into an atrocity.
Your version of orange is
a flashing neon sign in Vegas
where you gambled
with our lives
sporting an overdone tan
of the idle rich.
I’ve long been wary of ruddy faced men,
imagined the red of their cheeks not fine arteries
beneath pale skin, but a mirror
shed by their hands
or by their ancestors
who hand down their loot.
You moved Monopoly pieces on a tilted board,
while swelling numbers of people sleep
in the street
and others break their backs and their children’s
to pay Bank of America.
You damaged decency,
poured gasoline on simmering bigotry
and lit it
with an orange match.
Keep your damn orange –
the orange stink of a polluted pond,
eco-friendly laws tossed
in your dumpster,
the orange air when the sun couldn’t shine
through fire ash,
the orange rust that accumulates on a heart
whose owner has forgotten
how to use it.
I take back my orange –
apricot and peach
hanging heavy on leafy limbs,
the cantaloupe walls
of my kitchen,
the soft orange glow of dawn.
Susana Praver-Pérez is a Pushcart-nominated poet living in Oakland, California. By day she works as a Physician Assistant at La Clínica de la Raza. By night she reads at poetry events from San Francisco to San Juan. By nature, she’s a storyteller. Susana’s first full-length book of poetry, Hurricanes, Love Affairs and Other Disasters, will be released by Nomadic Press in 2021.
Photo by Josh Rose.