Friday, September 15, 2017
flash: BLUE — short-shorts on a theme
It’s a blue-grey day, pointillism of trees shivering in the wind and driving rain. It’s late, I’m tired, and I just want a train to get me home safe. Everywhere there are tones of blue, a couple entwine into a single long scarf. The train arrives, and I’m in, the couple sit opposite me giggling through a game of paper rock scissors. They endlessly punch out rock to rock or rock to scissors. Long journey into night, there is never paper wraps rock. I count down minutes after minutes to my stop, everything fast and slow, fast and slow, all its own blur. The train doesn’t really take forever, and I am sure paper gets to wrap rock. The train hits my stop. I race up the hill. A trashcan lid clangs for no reason: It could be cats, a fox, or something escaping the empire of owls that control this time. At this hour I’m also ready to light the blue touch paper of a different kind, for the one waiting. We can retire for the remains of the night. There’s a fledgling moon, it lies on our bedroom ledge, where stars can slip.
- Alan Summers
Ground fog obscures the formless clouds moving slowly through the dimly blue sky. I watch as the clouds seem to talk to each other. I wonder at their communication and the nature of their travel. They don't seem lonely; in immense space they are at home. My road has boundaries and is endless. The blues that swirl in my mind tell of struggle and discord, but also promise going forth.
- Fran Helmstadter
Early morning sunlight greets me, streaming through windows onto a blue-swirled carpet. I take the invitation to sit upon it. The sky hasn’t offered a shade of blue for at least two days. So, in honor of this, I rest quietly in a swirl of blue beauty.
- Heather Boob
My husband and I hardly ever disagree on anything. Except color. When I moved into his condo he had a black couch which I abhored. He insisted for months it was not black. It was dark brown. Finally we had it reupholstered with red velvet, which we both love. We always argued about tbe color of one suitcase that no longer exists. I always thought it was blue. He insisted it was green. Finally one day when he was driving us somewhere and we were talking about the suitcase, and discussing its true color, we approached a traffic light and I, exasperated, said "you see that green light there? It's THAT shade of blue."
- Kath Abela Wilson
My mother used Whatman Blue fountain pen ink for her writing, but usually she typed on an office-sized Royal Typewriter. It was noisy and I often awoke in the mornings to the sound of the clatter of her thoughts flowing on to the blue aerograms. She could fit more words on one air letter than anyone else. She was proud of this. One of the many economies she practiced.
- Laurie Snyder
My boyfriend from tenth grade stayed up all night in his mother’s kitchen, melting crayons into a club-like candle for me. Each layer of color was supposed to symbolize some aspect of our relationship, constricted as it was by difficult mothers on both sides, and the twelve miles that separated our houses. He dumped in a whole bottle of Hai Karate Cologne for Men, and sealed it all off with the deepest-colored crayon in the box, because, as he explained in all caps in the note that accompanied his gift: “LOVE IS BLUE!” Love was also fleeting, and by the time I left for college I had thrown that candle away. But for most of my high school years my bedroom closet smelled as though a sensei were about to burst out from among my shoes and skirts to teach me his best defensive stance against adolescent angst.
- Laurinda Petersen
Softball has been my favorite sport since I was a kid, and over the years my shiny blue aluminum bat has become a special friend of mine. Traditionally, the game was played with wooden bats. I liked the sound of those bats, and appreciated their character and integrity. High-tech, ballbastic whackers didn't show up until relatively recently and, on principle, I refused to go metallic for a long time. I never minded the laughs, and looks of disbelief, each time I stepped up to the plate with my piece of lumber. But when I was in my 50s and started playing with a traveling Senior Slo-Pitch team, competing in tournaments around the country, I finally caved in, deciding I needed to beef up my batting average. I went to a sporting goods store and let myself fall in love with a gorgeously sassy, exquisitely balanced, cobalt blue, metal bat, called the "B-52." It has served me well for many years. As I approach the age of 70, I'm still playing softball. And now, when I'm settling into the batter's box, I ask my shiny blue friend to help me hit a triple or a double, so I can safely trot down to first base.
- Marty Blue Waters
Blue used to be my favorite color. I think perhaps that was because my mother often chose blue as the color of my dresses. She chose pink for my sister, Kaye. I was glad I got blue, since I never liked red or pink. In fact, I thought pink was an especially disgusting color. One Christmas, when I was in fourth or fifth grade, I received a gift of a box of 64 crayons. That opened me up to a whole new spectrum of colors and I discovered a variety of shades of browns, greens, and oranges that really appealed to me (and still do).
- Mary Louise Church
I've begun wearing blue, turquoise, teal, these bright colors, deep colors, the tones of liquid nature, to remind me of water, lakes, the sky, rain. I wanted to start this time with peace, with blue — not fire, not orange. Before, I dressed like a tree at dusk: green, black, gray, brown, my safe colors, my earth tones, with this headful of orange hair like flame spilling down my back. A tree on fire. A woman on fire. I have burned myself out to warm others, but never again. I burn for myself now, and I learned to make my own rain. Orange, blue, fire, water, balance. You can come at me with peace, love, devotion, joy, but not passion. I don't need people that burn out. I need blue. I need water. I need sky. I can love you from my fiery soul all day long, but at the end of the day, I am mine alone. I have learned scarring lessons on how to love, how to give, how to lose, how to stitch myself back together with raindrops and flame to survive. My soul is flame ringed with cool blue waters. Come wildfire or flood or deep love, I will keep on burning, floating, burning, floating.
- Maryam Moss
Alone in the cafe I catalog things blue. A boy in azure shorts runs out of the bathroom, whose stall dividers are a blue bordering purple. Above the fountain is a shelf laden with cobalt-blue glasses. A water-filled one on my table beckons. To its right my Carolina-blue bicycle helmet has three blue stripes right of center running front to back. Women comment they like it. They should — it is a woman’s model. But it fits properly, is visible, and the price was right, fifty percent off the manufacturer’s sky-high cost. I wear a red T-shirt. If I were to move towards you at lightspeed it would appear blue. A streetlight outside the second-floor window has a blue cap. For what purpose? Beyond, the sky is tinged brown by thick forest-fire smoke. The orange orb at sunrise and sunset is reminiscent of air-polluted Delhi’s midday one. I enjoy India, its predominance of yellows, saffrons, and reds, and wonder if behind the smoke choking this valley, the local mountains, and India, still exist. Dogen’s walking blue mountains remind us we abide in a re-creating flux we call the Universe. Suddenly, my catalog turns every shade of green.
- Michael G. Smith
My last car was sky blue because someone told me I looked good in blue. After two years I changed the color name to dented blue. Now, all vanity gone —okay, mostly gone — I drive a dull beige car.
- Nina Miller
She wore blue velvet/Bluer than velvet was the night . . . Bobby Vinton’s voice filled my friend Alice’s family cabin on the Pamlico River in North Carolina. People were slow dancing, but I wasn’t. People seemed to be at ease, talking and laughing. I was just feeling terribly awkward; knot-in-the-stomach-tight-breathing-almost-dizzy awkward. This was my default emotion in high school, if awkward can be an emotion. I was not into drinking, or even compulsive nervous eating back then, so I just soaked in awkward. When I got home from the party I could smell awkward on my clothes. This song takes me back there every time. She wore blue velvet/Bluer than velvet were her eyes . . .
- Reba Dolch
Blue skin told the tale, finding her still, alone, no roof, cover, no warmth left to stave off the endless night.
- Rob Sullivan
Blue is the color of the throat chakra, of expression of our voices. Of spinning yarns, of telling tales, of releasing secrets once and for all.
- Stacey Murphy
Blue, an array of hues that had no name until the mid 1800s. I would have preferred it be Disraeli who coined the word "blue," but it was William Gladstone instead. Blue, how could you be so illusive? How could Homer speak of the wine dark sea and not name you? Blue, you are an endless open sky, the color of possibility, of childhood memories, of lying in the tall grass with my cousin-sister, Joanie, discovering the play of clouds drifting away. There were rabbits and alligators and elephants and old men's noses that morphed into sky rockets. The wide blue sky we filled with our innocence and imagination.
- Sue Crowley
Blue Jays! Three of our yard-birds are molting and look as bald and ugly as vultures. They scream when the suet is gone. "Go be honest birds in the woods!" we tell them. On the other hand, we encourage our woodpeckers . . . but there's no blue on them. Another thought: The sensuality of blue oil paint squeezed from a tube onto a palate. Cobalt, indigo, lapis, cerulean, ultramarine — such rich colors. Running a brush through the silky textured paint feels like opening a door, not knowing what is on the other side, but being certain it's going to be something good. Where to put the first stroke?
- Sue Norvell
He said he knew how to fix the problem. He was staring into the camera like there was a poisonous spider on the lens and his yellow striped tie hung at an angle down the front of his shirt. He was on TV so he could tell us the secret, the thing to do, the perfect remedy. “Insomnia,” he said, “can be cured without meds, without any bedtime rituals. All you need to do is close your eyes and imagine a huge white canvas stretched across your conscious mind. Then you start at a corner, any corner, and you color it in. However, you cannot color it just any color. No, no! You must color it blue. That is the secret. Color it blue. You will be asleep in three minutes, guaranteed. Well, maybe four minutes.”
- Susan Lesser
My mother loved blue — not “the blues” — no, that wouldn’t do for a woman who loved Sousa marches and “Onward Christian Soldiers.” She loved the color blue. It was the color of most of the things she surrounded herself with. Her double-knit polyester pants, the ones with the seam sewn down the front to look like a crease — they were royal blue. She had numerous pairs and wore them every day. They were part of her “uniform.” On top she wore short-sleeved blouses (never pullovers), usually with a flower print, and almost exclusively in shades of blue. My mother had a collection of Wedgwood pottery, mostly in Wedgwood blue, and her favorite Oriental rugs were blue too. One had a medallion in the center where a fierce dragon crouched. She bought blue glass wherever she found it, and if she wore eye shadow, which was rare, it was blue too. Her eyes were blue, as were my father’s and my own, and in my crayon drawings of our family, my mother wore a blue housedress, my father wore a plaid flannel shirt, my hazel-eyed sister towered above us all, and three of us had big blue spots for eyes.
- Susanna Drbal
Her first birthday. My husband picked out her gift, a fuzzy blue blanket. When it arrived memories of my own blue childhood blanket trickled in. We were inseparable. Everywhere I went it came trailing behind me. Even in college, I kept it hidden in the back of my closet. I couldn’t let go. As I watch my daughter curl her little fingers around her now beloved blankie, I find I long for that same sense of security. For her it’s a symbol of the love and comfort of us, her family. Something I lost long ago. I ache for that peace. That ease of consolation. The family that came with it. Maybe for my daughter it will be different. Maybe she will never know what I have known. Maybe I can offer what I was never given. Over the years, I have learned to cope on my own, grieve on my own, heal on my own. I hope one day she will look back with fond memories on this blue blanket. And that for her it will always hold a place of security, and will never have to be a little girl’s shield from an unforgiving world.
- Tia Haynes
Blue fertilizes the berries that grace the muffins. My thanks when the wind washes away wildfire smoke and a cloud pops up white against clear. Blue for the head bent in remembrance of the old dog, mistakes made at the turn in the road and the mailbox, for the fleece robe whose zipper skips. For a bald head in an Ancient Tree hat, soup bowls full of lentils and greens, a willow pattern teapot and three cups that hold the hopes of a humble man and the duke’s daughter fleeing over the bridge.
the feeder swings
jostle for room
- Tricia Knoll
Back in the early 1970s, when I worked at The American School in London, I spent my weekly salary on small luxuries: I had my hair permed; I bought the 2-volume, hardbound set of Virginia Woolf's diaries; I chose a tidy bouquet of anemones at every opportunity; and I lined the windowsill of my bedsitter room with bottles of colored ink, even though I didn't own a fountain pen. These indulgences didn't leave much money left over for clothes and my wardrobe was meager. In winter, a pair of button-up-the-front navy wool pants and a black sweater that made me itch. The rest of the year I wore an inappropriately long (to my ankles) velour skirt. It was royal blue and I did, indeed, feel regal in it. On top, T-shirts in a variety of colors, covered over by my Laura Ashley smock. Was it periwinkle? Cornflower blue? I made no distinction between shades back then, and my memory is no help to me now. But I remember how attached I was to that smock. When it became threadbare I went right back to the store and bought another one in the same beautiful shade of blue.
- Zee Zahava