Interpretation: Orange on Orange (metal print) by Mark Rothko


What it is not

is Jello, the kind you got

in the hospital when you had your tonsils out

or what was served in the cafeteria when you were

in grammar school. It does have the faint texture

of gel but that is where the similarities end.

Beyond beige, a color that keep its secrets to itself

creamy like things with refined viscosity

slow of movement, always an elegant quality

if sweet, but not the cheap cherry red sweet

lime green or orange orange of store-bought candies.

Its faithful companion, caramel, is a condiment worthy

of exotic Madagascar vanilla and, let’s face it

you are often judged by the company you keep.

Sometimes round like a disk of contentment

or oblong, rectangular or pie shaped

when served on a stylish saucer becomes

an after dinner offering of distinction.

Its recipe found among ancient Roman ruins

implies a staying power and compared

to other custards like bread or rice pudding

which can’t hold a candle to this enchanted

concoction, its alchemy, not of lead into gold

but of eggs and milk and sugar plus heat, is

a domestic transformation worthy of legend and myth

but we all know how little history values domesticity.

And finally, in praise of its worthiness, it answers

the age-old question “What if all you ever gain

with age is wisdom?” implying not only a rhetorical

answer, but the epiphany of small pleasures

not just defining them, but enjoying them.