Digital Creative

Essays

ORANGES

Milan Djordjevic wrote about a man waking up in the morning to clear lights and scents. In the poem, the man searches for words the way one finds blackberries in the woods. Djordjevic wrote about a charred tangerine that sizzled like a chunk of beef in the fire and transformed into hot black liquid that bubbled up and darkened.

The poet said mornings are deathless, and the tangerine in the fire is becoming Nothing. I cringe because I don't want to read poems about deathlessness or Nothingness. But I'm curious about tangerines blistering in fire and what the man smelled when he woke up, before he foraged for words.   

Late last night, I dug my nail into the skin of an orange to see what would happen. The slice left an indent that didn't reach the meat of the fruit. I pressed the nail deeper into the skin and finally, the rind cracked. I peeled the fuzzy white part away from its center. I ate a slice. The taste was so bitter that at first I tasted nothing. Overwhelmed my tastebuds delayed, then in wave, they seemed to recoil, leaving my tongue deadened and stung.

Last Spring I wore Jo Malone's Orange Blossom cologne. It didn't have the clean spice of real oranges: the kind of smell that stops near the tip of your nose and doesn't go much further. The liquid was much sweeter and deeper like the carnal smell of something pollinating—something powerful that won't last.

I wore the cologne on an evening in March, when my roommate and I went on a walk, killing time before a party. We walked down Boyer Avenue with cold Miller High Life beers inside wool socks to keep them chilled. We turned on Merian, then Cyprus and finally Linden, where we exchanged our almost empty cans for full, warm ones and stuffed the socks into our pockets. Standing on wet grass, we sipped on flat beer with more smell than taste.

This morning I sat on my couch, drinking black coffee and watching the snow fall. In the white-cold morning light, I ate the rest of my orange. I could only think of how I let the French press sit too long; and how that made the grounds grow bitter; and how I wished the coffee was smoother and lighter; and that maybe these small things are just as important as bigger things like deathlessness and Nothingness. Maybe even bitter coffee is enough to make a morning deathless.


UNFINISHED FORMS

Rotary cutters and gridded cutting mats wrangle softly textured seersucker into careful geometric forms with well defined edges and clear definitions. These finely measured patterns are the blueprints for constructing garments that rest against our bodies.

A box pleat smartly sewn into a cotton shirt, when distilled to its underlying form, reveals the simple elegance of interlocking geometric planes. Felled seams are framed with uniformly interrupted parallel lines that appear to hover in space. Sometimes, raised plackets and back yokes call to mind horizon lines and the simplified vocabulary of abstract landscape paintings.

These associations come flooding back to me. I love them all. The folds of a lace curtain against my newly potted hyacinths, and the sun-dappled cotton sheets I wrapped myself in the morning I decided not to get up and make coffee, and instead, stay in bed and stare out the window.   

These are some of the fleeting moments I hold in my mind, quietly suspended in memory. I replay them, let them go, and feel them come back. They are vignettes of stories without clear edges: they lack definition or lucid structure.

Geometric frames stained the color of clay. Crisp cotton eyelet stretched and pulled tight. These delicate, barely-there volumes nod towards ephemeral moments in time and give them physical presence. They are airy, incomplete visual narratives.

Looking at them, I have some loose approximation of the stories they illustrate. I wait. I let my mind go to work, pulling in the coastal tide of memories that fill out and give weight to their bony silhouettes.