Jul/Aug 2013 Poetry

Questing After the Color Blue

by Marjorie Mir

Digital artwork by Adam Ferriss

Digital artwork by Adam Ferriss

Questing After the Color Blue


From the bison at Lascaux
to Mary's robe, the Old Guitarist,
arena for Constable's clouds,
landscapes, seascapes,
all were thousands of years in the coming.
While clay yielded up its pigments,
yellow, ochre, red,
blue continued to elude
until its hidden place was found
locked beneath a mountain,
far, far underground.


Once, in the time of old stories,
at the bidding of an artist-king,
three brothers vowed to find for him
the blue his palette lacked.
They set out on their separate paths,
one with a bucket, one with a cage
and the youngest empty-handed.

The first one found it easily,
contained within a pond,
carried it brimming to the king,
but, once there, the blue had fled.
Spilled out? Or never there at all.
The king thanked him for his trouble,
washed his brushes in the bucket,
sadly said goodbye.

The second, quick of hand and eye,
caught a bunting and a bluejay,
brought them to the king
who bowed his head above them,
said, " Here is the color, not the source,"
stroked the birds and set them free.

The youngest walked for days and miles,
at last met a crone by the roadside
who listened to his story,
saying simply, "Follow me."
She led him to a cave-mouth
then deep beneath the earth
through miles of winding passages
to a room alive with the light of cloudless days
where blue like captive royalty
lay waiting its release.
She gave him the stone, told the name,
"Lapis. Lapis lazuli."

And so, the youngest brother
brought to the king,
the source wherein lay Mary's robe
and monks' illuminations,
sea and sky, bunting and bluejay,
mirrored pond, all blendings
of the spectrum.

Refusing thanks, he stepped outside
to where she waited,
the crone transformed, young now,
enfolded in a cloak
spun from the marriage
of yellow and blue;
green as spring leaves,
green as first love,
as old stories' happy endings.


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