Hope you can make Molly Tenenbaum's reading at 7:30 on Tuesday night, January 26, 2012 at Open Books: A Poem Emporium.
Nobody writes quite like Molly. She is entirely herself and completely indispensable. A master of the sensual.
Ode to the Ugly Colors
Hairball beige, rust that spots
every single snapdragon,
mustard of 70s telephones, she swore
she never would wear these, and why
grownups did, who could guess, when they could put on
all the pink they wanted.
At ten, she claimed brown
her favorite color, but only
("brown's not a color") to shock little yellows and reds—
or maybe she'd seen maroon velvet, even then, felt the blush of cocoa powder.
Iris, iridescent, you were lovely, color the crescent moon
might flash if she fluttered a wing,
glimpse of her aunt Eva's silk sheath, shadow
the black-haired girls
caked on in the junior high bathroom
and came out looking, the principal said,
like sluts, but she loved
their necklines of peacock acrylic, their idea
of brushing blue anywhere.
Sings to you now, blotchy green, underside
of a sunflower leaf that will be completely dead tomorrow.
Sings to you, burnt buttermilk, tabletop clotted with cup-rings.
Sings to you, gray, porous linoleum tracked with wet weather.
And to you, white glare, all a cataract sees.
She wears green of cow-dung, tan of an old dry gourd.
Color of mildew, of grated potatoes.
Color of grunt, harrumph, and husk.
The old lips of yogurt, the lost cottage cheese.
Scrape and caw, a dinged aluminum pot.
The granite color of collar bands.
The chicken-fat color of sleep-scum.
Mud of her eyes.
Ugly colors, she sings, you have
the most beautiful names.
Dove-gray, olive, dusky rose.
Murrey, claret, bloodstain, myrtle.
Mauve, russet, mahogany, buff.
Sallow, ginger, pockmarked nacre.
Birchbark, mica, sandstone, moss.
You are soft as the cotton sheet in the mending basket.
You are the damp cloth
fever heats through every five minutes.
When you wrap around a person, when she pulls
you tighter, heavy weight of wool in winter,
she feels a tug
in her heart—
cuticle detaching, claw caught in a sweater.
Unsealing of a leaf before it falls.
Labels: "Ode to the Ugly Colors", Molly Tenenbaum, poetry reading