‘Orange’ by Natasha Oladokun is one of those poems that reminds me how incredibly clever poetry can be in a way that prose rarely deigns to be. An homage to one of the most famous words of our language without a one-true-pairing, Oladokun’s poem is itself a spectacle of language. Like a docent leading us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the English language, she wends us via loose rhyming connections to the connation of words; my absolute favorite stop was porridge, “There’s not a single human being that knows what the hell to do with porridge, that which feeds and leaves the body hungrier than ever.”
Even more spectacularly, she suggests some words to consider as a mate for orange. “Gorenge? Am I right? Norenge?” Yes! I vote for “norenge.” Can Oladokun define the word for us, affixing the sound to some remote and heretofore indelible feeling that we’ll be so happy to finally have a way to say it? Can we pair everything up? Could we finally be happy, at last, for the awkward, alone orange?