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TALES OF AN ORANGEPEELER

an archive of pleasures, wounds, sublimations
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05.03.03, saturday evening

The Port of Oakland, early afternoon, early May:

Black skid marks smear wide desolate streets, left behind by East Oakland teenagers drag-racing against boredom. Gigantic cranes. Spiky palm trees; the occasional truck cruising by, glinting glossy in sunlight; grey pelicans soaring, often alone. Virgin park grills and vandal-proof benches. Free-to-use periscopes that render everything flat. We moon each other, against the backdrop of a fog-draped San Francisco or columns of gigantic red "K"line boxes. (Through the periscope, J's relationship to me hard to gauge.) Somewhere faraway, something starts to keel - is it a winged creature of mythical proportions? An ancient behemoth dying underwater? A ship ferrying oranges, spices, electronic devices, and other goods from ports faraway? A dirge for those who have sight of the shore. Or the sea.

. . .

At a pier, fishermen have left behind bait, an empty Sea Waves package that had once contained frozen calamari, empty soda cans that quiver, then roll quickly away, into the water. My body remembers the urge to let the wind push me into the aquamarine bay. I donít know how to swim. I fantasize about being underwater, suspended in the embrace of ruby kelp, just above carbuncled and mollusked rock. Instead, I turn away, walking to examine a scale-littered table, where the fishermen go to clean their catch. The scales coruscate in the sunlight; the dried black viscera do not.

. . .

Casting long shadows, the light creates rich contrast between the warm and the cool. The post-storm clouds passes quickly above us as we lie in a green meadow bordered by manmade hills. J's eyes are blue, his stubbled skin still pale against the emerald green grass flecked with ladybugs and mushrooms, tiny and tender to questing fingers. Were they poisonous? I didnít test them.

Beyond our scope, a girl in a red-hooded sweatshirt skates in the parking lot, near a parked silver Mercedes, its windows rolled partially down.

When tiny meets giant. A ladybug lands on his finger and J watches as it shits a liquid emerald pearl.

Earlier we had fought, shouting at each other in the parking lot of the largest Longs Drugs in the nation. I wouldn't look at him. On the fence a little black bird puffed out its glistening breast, before jettisoning off into the wide cold blue sky.






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