For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Future Is Orange

Jeanette Winterson once wrote
that oranges were not the only fruit.
But what if they were the only fruit?
What a boring world that would be.

‘What’s for dessert, dear?’
‘Oranges.’
‘Something with them?’
‘Just more oranges.’

No fruit would rhyme with anything
for there would only be oranges,
and oranges only rhyme with oranges.

There would not even be lemons,
or songs about lemons.
Try this:
Oranges and oranges say the bells of St Clement’s.
Not the same, huh?

As the advert goes, the future’s orange.
Not blackberry or gooseberry or passion fruit or pomegranate
or red or purple or lime green.
Just orange.

And imagine if this monoculture spread
to other genera?
I’ve heard that 95% of species
are dying out —
the fish, the flowers, the trees,
the larger mammals —

so, could it be possible one day
that just one type of each remains? —
the armoured catfish representing fish,
the dark-red helleborine the flowers,
the scrubby juniper the trees,
one single struggling mammal —
perhaps the meerkat (cute)
or jackal (not so cute)?

But, dear God, help us all
if the last vestiges of human beings
are estate agents or politicians.

I'd rather forget the orange future
and cling on to the rainbow present,
celebrating cooks and circus clowns,
postmen, poets, pop stars, pharmacists,
town criers and chimney sweeps,
traffic wardens, archivists, accountants —
while they last.

5 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

estate agents and politicians? Glad I am getting to the end of my life is that is the future Robert.

The Solitary Walker said...

Bankers too, Pat?

Well, the poem was kind of faux-naif and satirical, and I hope you were being jocular too. Farmers (the future is green!) and their families are statistically some of the most long-lived people, so you have many decades to go yet!

Dominic Rivron said...

Perhaps if oranges were the only fruit we would (like it is said inhabitants of the Arctic circle have 40 words for snow - though, sadly, I heard this is apocryphal) have 40 words for oranges. Hopefully, the rhyme-pool would benefit.

Come to think of it - tangerines, mandarins, I don't know... How many words are there already?

As for the future, I often reflect on the fact that it's said birds are descendants of the dinosaurs. It makes you wonder what the distant future has in store for us. I always imagine ugly little squeaky hairless (stress-)monkeys living high in the trees (or whatever pass for trees by then). Future intelligent life might then reflect - "You know those horrible little monkeys that bite you if you try to stroke them? You'd never believe it, but..."

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for your interesting comment, Dominic. You made me think of 'tangelo', which could rhyme with 'bungalow'.

The Solitary Walker said...

PS The rhyme — perhaps not!