A Life in Orange

In June of this year I attended a writing course in the beautiful Brecon Beacons in Wales run by three amazing writers: Jay Griffiths, Tom Bullough and Pascale Petit. It was held at Black Mountains College and was called Writing, Climate and the Living World, drawing in writers from across the UK who are exploring the CEE (Climate and Ecological Emergency) in their writing. Just up my street, one I knew I couldn’t miss. Amongst a number of brilliant activities and teachings, we were asked to choose a colour and write a personal response to it. We could think about its personal associations to us, its history, symbolism, representation in nature, cultural specificity; in other words, anything at all.

Sleeping on a Welsh hillside at Black Mountains College

This was actually such a fun, satisfying activity. Give it a go with a colour of your choice, it’s amazing all the associations that come up. I chose orange which, truthfully, is not a colour I’m a fan of. But it’s become a significant colour for me this year. Read my poem below, and why don’t you give it a whirl yourself and send me what you write?

A Life in Orange

I am Orange.

Glass-bottled juice and the tang of it in

your mouth at breakfast before school.

I am braille-skinned satsuma peel that you fold over to

squeeze into your brother and sister’s eyes, a

sudden sharp burst arcing across the kitchen.

I am the safety cone that you steal as a teenager,

drunk in the car park of Pizza Town as you

weave uncertainly down the street, cone perched on your head.

I am in the single stripe in India’s flag

that you paint in your journal, the

smells of incense and cow shit and humid dawns mingling.

I am the single curl that sprouts like a pea shoot

on your baby daughter’s head that you wind

and unwind around your fingers.

I am the mineral-rich earth muddied with a downpour

from Nairobi’s long rains, smeared on your trains, trousers,

your children’s soles, palms, memories.

I am the lacy, paper-crisp flower before the

courgette bursts into allotment abundance.

I am the skull-stamped banner unfurled on London bridges,

pulled taut against the wind and angry, grappling hands of those who

cannot, will notface what must be faced.

I am the here, the now,

the cluster of tiny rowan berries offered as a gift

on this day, on this Welsh hillside,

as swallows, a tease of wings,

flicker by.

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