WELD MADDER WOAD by Edward Mayes

It wasn’t that black and white failed
Us, not drawing the iron curtain, looping
The rust belt, pointing at those in the congo
Line, because we’ll always have the equator,
Or day which can never be spelled night,
Or the dye the dyers spilled, cyan and
Magenta, fuchsia and mauve, dying
The large bed linens of God, mud
Slapped on the stone walls, gray, gray,
Gray, gray, and gray, and getting grayer,
The light through the window suddenly
So boring, not even enough to read this
By, or the icon we buried for some reason
In the backyard, those who fought in
The Battle of Magenta, 1859, and we
Ate the wisteria flowers and we ate
The sambuca flowers, and pronounced
Yellow the best color for children, the last
Color we see, and if the sand seen through
Water makes the water seen, and when
A thousand pomegranate seeds rattle in
The copper bowl, as if we too could float, but
Not be part of the bargain, the just and
The unjust, the killed and the soon-to-be
Killed, those saved to see red, those so weary
Of blue, those of us shades, those of us ghosts.
Notes: Weld, yellow; madder, red; woad, blue; jabs, jitters, chitterlings; monster; mons
of Venus; circuit; lexicon; bullnose; annals; asp of Jerusalem; Toulouse; Leonhart
Fuchs; hammock, hassock, cassock, sock

Edward Mayes’s five books of poetry include First Language (University of Massachusetts Press–Juniper Prize), and Works & Days (University of Pittsburgh Press—AWP Donald Hall Prize). He is coauthor, with Frances Mayes, of In Tuscany (Broadway Books), Bringing Tuscany Home (Broadway Books,), and The Tuscan Sun Cookbook (Clarkson Potter). His poetry has appeared in The Southern Review, Poetry, The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The Gettysburg Review, and Southwest Review.