Still Life with Oranges
In my language your color is your name,
color of hearth flame and hillside poppies.
Here you are portokali, sweet yield of Portugal.
In my palm you are a bright world
I curl fingers around, perfect globe.
I revolve you between your axes
of little stem and navel,
omphalos out of which Zeus birthed.
Or are you a full moon rising
after the ergates burn brush in the fields
smoking the spring air above the dusty groves
that line the narrow roads outside Mystras?
Neruda called you sun with fiery rind,
a single wheel of golden ingots,
borne from the Indian to the Mediterranean,
fruit that feeds sailors and all the senses.
I roll you in my hands, peel skin
until my fingers hold the taste of you.
Then from each spoke flows a clean bite
and your juice spills into my mouth
freedom songs of the Peloponnese.
One evening below Mt. Taygetus
how your brilliant hue lit the dark trees
inside their shiny-leaved branches
when I climbed a wooden ladder
to fill a cotton bag I wore against my chest.
Later I dreamed Ritsos stood
at the door with a full basket.
Morning’s bowl of new-picked fruit
on a table covered by blue cloth,
you are proino for high-stepping soldiers.
Last night you were white blossoms
perfuming a courtyard with secrets
high above the shimmering seas.
Yannis Ritsos (1909-1990) was a Greek poet, political activist, and World War II resistance fighter.