Megan Margaret Oost 

Megan Margaret

Personal Essay

Milan Djordjevic wrote about a man waking up in the morning to clear light 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 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, 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.