September Spotlight: Alexandra Orbuch

Kayla Nickfardjam
Staff Writer

“I come from ‘Open 24 hours’ signs doused in neon lighter fluid,
from tree lined parks and the familiar chorus of honking cars.
I come from the rhythmic slosh of a rainy sidewalk,
from light ricocheting off blinded window panes.
I come from pulsing, sensory overload, life lived in overdrive, or lost in the chaos.”

This beautifully written verse is only a small excerpt from Spotlight Poet, Alexandra Orbuch’s ‘20 poetry reading at the first Arts Combine Event of the school year. At the reading, students gathered in the library during 2.Oneg, heard a few pieces from the Spotlight poet and then recited their own, original poetry and short stories in front of their fellow Milken students and teachers. The poetry was accompanied by smooth jazz music performed by Aidan Tepper 19’ and Gabe Cohen ‘20.

Although Orbuch has been a student at Milken for only a year, as a Junior, she has already made her mark and taken on numerous leadership positions including heading the Literary Magazine. Not only does Orbuch contribute her leadership skills to the program, but she also enhances it with her masterful writing, teeming with sensory detail and imagery. Her prowess in poetry was exhibited as she read poems such as the one above, titled, “I Come From.” In this piece, Orbuch captures the essence and charm of her first home, Manhattan. Contrary to what you might think, she states, “It’s actually a lot easier to write about New York when I’m not there. I’d never really written about Manhattan before until I left, and then I noticed the striking differences between Los Angeles and New York and I was able to really pull from that.”

Besides writing about her personal experiences, Orbuch shared more contemplative poetry, such as “The Art of an Empty Page,” in which she suggests that “perhaps words don’t smudge, but leave their mark.” Orbuch read incredibly imaginative fictional poems about mysterious glass bottles and young love. A striking aspect of her work is the usage of color descriptions in her pieces, such as “alabaster skin” and “hazel flecked stare.” She comments, “Color is definitely what comes first whenever I start writing my poetry more naturally, and then I have to think about the more minute details.” Lastly, Orbuch told listeners that nature is a major source of inspiration for her poetry. This topic is her favorite subject to write about because she enjoys the “serenity” of it.

To find more poetry like Orbuch’s and that of numerous other talented writers, keep your eye out for announcements about the monthly Arts Combine Event. In the meantime, you can grab a copy of last year’s Lit Mag “Side Effects” in the library or take advantage of the numerous other creative writing opportunities at Milken, such as the Literary Magazine elective and the creative writing club.

 

Alexandra’s Poetry:

Stranger’s Journey

The photograph
hangs limp between
her vein flecked fingers,
a stranger staring back,
adorned with wild curls
and tortoiseshell lenses
that mask reflective hazel,
a hand fiddling with a
newly settled silver band,
it’s sapphire appendage refracting
the sun’s muted rays.

The trembling fingers set down the
vestige of what once was,
hazel now matched with piercing grey,
sapphire pressed against
the heat of a familiar palm.

 

Galaxies

I remember the way your fingers used to comb through my curls,
how we used to sit on the grass staring at the clouds, naming their shapes.
I remember how you used to tuck my locks behind my ears and tell me stories,
how we used to stare into the stars in each other’s eyes.
I remember how we used to stargaze, piecing together the constellations.
How you used to pick flowers from the bushes by our favorite picnic spot and gently tuck them behind my ear.
How when we left, you would dust the grass follicles off of my skirt and pull me up from the ground.
I remember how you told me you could see the entire galaxy in my eyes,
how if you looked far enough beyond the hazel, you could see the stars.
I remember how we used to make those journeys every night, and then you would drop me off at home until our journey started again.
Every night, star gazing into each others eyes, dusting off the grass and tucking my chestnut curls behind my earrings.
You used to tell me that my eyes shined brighter than them,
that the diamonds glinting in the moons visage had nothing on my sparkling brown,
galaxies behind them.

I Come From

I come from crowded streets and hazy air,
from sensory overload and spent cigarettes peppering city blocks.
I come from taxi drivers yelling and doormen sweeping,
from punctured trash bags marking the pavement
and towering skyscrapers lining the horizon.
I come from women adorned in Prada and Chanel,
from confused, disoriented homeless,
from opaque and muggy summer air.
I come from narrow apartments,
built in shelving profiling the walls,
from the confines of a bedroom of 7×10.
I come from bulging jackets and fox fur gloves,
from cheeks turned rosy by the city’s frosty breath.
I come from “Open 24 hours” signs doused in neon lighter fluid,
from tree lined parks and the familiar chorus of honking cars.
I come from the rhythmic slosh of a rainy sidewalk,
from light ricocheting off blinded window panes.
I come from pulsing, sensory overload, life lived in overdrive,
or lost in the chaos.

The Art of an Empty Page

Is there beauty in filling a page?
To erasing the blankness
that once pervaded it?
Some say that there is a
serenity to emptiness,
that words are the wrinkles decorating
once pristine alabaster skin.
That their spattered fingerprints
cannot possibly justify
smudging God’s stain
glass mirror.

But perhaps there is
something to sullying
a snowy mirror.

Perhaps words wipe away the mask
that once veiled the alabaster.
Perhaps words don’t smudge,
but leave their mark.
Perhaps they don’t erase emptiness,
but describe it.

Afraid

I’m afraid of mismatched socks and dusty cobwebs,
of wooly tarantulas and dirt flecked beetles,
I’m afraid of empty rooms
and creaking doors.
I’m afraid of teething mosquitoes
and black cats that slink into the shadows.
I’m afraid of biking accidents on winding country roads,
of losing my sense of direction in a sinuous maze.
I’m afraid of rabid dogs and towering heights,
of sharks with endless rows of razor teeth
and the deadly whip of a stingray’s velvety tail.
I’m afraid of silence,
of memories lost.
I’m afraid of losing the golden apple that
dangles from a chain still
ensconced in grandmother’s perfume.

I’m afraid of never again breathing
in the sweet smelling nutmeg that
seems to follow your silhouette,
of forgetting your throaty tones and hazel flecked stare.

 

Glass Bottle of Neglect

Jagged edges glinting in the sun-drenched waste land,
their nearly imperceptible imprint, shrouded by sea and sun.
The abyss of sapphire, endless. Why withstand?

Shards of memory sent adrift or entombed in the sand,
specks consumed by a cerulean visage so overrun,
jagged edges glinting in the sun-drenched waste land.
Splintered specks release hold with a limp hand,
meandering along the brackish waves, angular fingers cracked, done. The abyss of sapphire endless. Why withstand?
Glass pillars fear to leave their sun-drenched home unscanned.
Peering beyond the waters to where it all begun,
jagged edges glinting in the sun-drenched waste land.
The sun, unwilling to extend a wrinkled hand,
slips her slender fingers into ivory gloves never to be undone.
The abyss of sapphire, endless. Withstand?

Anointing the no longer shattered shards with her sceptered hand,
she smiles upon the glassy waste land, one
jagged edge glinting brilliantly in the sun-drenched sand.
Withstand.

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