“Red Line 3H” © Edward Michael Supranowicz
The walls of the rooms we walked in
before the air turned toxic
were oxidized, like copper to verdigris.
Our lungs broke into an unstable green,
fresh breath becoming
a mysterious uncertainty.
Botticelli was infatuated with the unstable, expensive pigment —
he was hired by the rich to paint the union of couples in comfort
and let the bright cloaks hold dark premonitions.
He protected the color with layers of varnish,
but still it would morph into something murky and faded.
Verdigris formed on Lady Liberty’s copper robe —
metallic, regal and brown.
She reached out to the three suffragists
riding in a smelly cattle barge in New York.
It was the only boat they could find in the sea of men.
Without chaperones, they had no tickets for the dedication.
The women shouted into the statue’s vacant eyes,
rode rough salt-water waves
colored like the egg of the Black-throated Ouzel.
What were those colors
in between the years
pushing for change?
Before brown turned teal,
before there were votes for women,
there was copper turning to verdigris.
The colors of the pandemic turned us mortal —
after a month, we changed, copper to blue-green.
Our burnt sense of smell was decomposing.
After another month at home we painted our egg-white walls
Tiffany green in the breakfast room.
To paint with verdigris is to accept
that our carefully constructed visions
of tomorrow will be covered with linseed oil
and in a short time will turn black —
yet we persist.
We watch the foliage turn with the seasons,
isolated in the land of turquoise.
We finger emeralds in the threadgrass,
our vision of beauty
is looking for rooms we can enter.
Jules Nyquist is the founder of Jules’ Poetry Playhouse in Placitas, NM, a place for poetry and play. She took her MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College, VT. Her latest book is Atomic Paradise, an exploration of growing up in the Cold War and living in the Land of Enchantment surrounded by nuclear secrets. Her other award-winning books are Zozobra Poems, 2019 NM/AZ Book Award winner in philosophy and Homesick, then 2018 NM/AZ Book Award winner in poetry. She has been interviewed in print, online and on the radio by most recently, KUNM’s Women Folk (Albuquerque), KJZZ’s International Women’s HERstory (Tucson). She is co-editor of the Poets Speak series with the award-winning HERS anthology.
Edward Michael Supranowicz has had artwork and poems published in the US and other countries. Both sides of his family worked in the coalmines and steel mills of Appalachia.