Color Theory: Poem by Miriam Sagan

A friend and I are taking an art class together, each on zoom, and ended up having a fascinating conversation about color. I’ve always used color to express emotion in poems, but not super symbolically. Wallace Stevens of course is the master of blue–Lorca of verde.

Color Theory

In the Thirties and Forties
Manhattan glitters
diamonds on blue velveteen at dusk
although each afternoon is gray
shearing towards rain
the felt brim of the fedora—
also gray—
turned down

I’m born into my mother’s house
her box of colors
sturdy browns and olive shades of the Fifties
her lilacs, rose, dove gray, moss green
cultivated colors of domestic flowers
dusky blue wallpaper print
never saw her wear
orange or yellow

The Sixties
neon green
hot pink
zebra stripe
pink zebra stripes
electric blue
yellow submarine

Today’s palette
zinc sky, snow shading into violet shadow
white hoops
for the unplanted
garden bed
but my own sheets
are apricot
although the fruit trees are bare

The lines on the map
should be blue
to reference veins,
what leads back
to the heart…

The child let go
of the balloons
didn’t mean to
pollute the air
but the lightness
of helium
was too much hue
for you

It was either
the balloons
or something
more personal

A private feeling
also multicolored

I’m told
to pick my palette
and stick to it
the peeling white metal bedstead
in the abandoned beach house
the violent sprawl
of orange day lilies
I’ve left that place

And you in it…

The schooner’s red sails…

Don’t tell me
the sails are white
is in charge

Who gets to say?

I remember you
and as you
have forgotten me
I get to pick
the color

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About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well ( The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

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