by Linda Mills Woolsey
When I consider the buzz of feeding on nectar,
the bluebottle’s heady dazzle, azure
to rival even the dragonfly’s, I want
to rise in praise of being.
But grief’s body is thick, awkward,
its spiky legs pick their way across
the compost’s wilted kale-blue scraps
The bluebottle lays her nectar-infused eggs
on corpses, helping the rot along.
This morning a lone bluebottle rickets
along the sill as I ponder blue:
from robin’s egg to the raised veins
on the mottled backs
of my hands.
Eyes, too, in variations–from aquamarine
of the sea at Sounion to Carrara’s slabs,
nearly gray. It’s sad how seldom
I’ve really noticed.
Today I’m about as blue as a mixing bowl,
a denim skirt, a velvet sleeve, my own
personal blue beyond violets, sixties’ eyeshadow,
the sad-eyed sound of Elvis’s voice.
I am sinking into a ripe blue–
vat of concord grapes, bowl of prune plums,
July’s blackberries ripening
on their canes.
I stir blue like a bottle of ink, a tub of bluing,
a kettle of jam bubbling on a hot stove.
I can feel it hardening—the old blues
of iron bridges, my wrecked Nova,
dressmaker’s pins clenched
between my mother’s pursed lips.
My heart is lapis, cobalt, indigo, glass.
Any day now it will shatter
like a bottle of Blue Nun or a jar
of Noxzema–pieces jagged, scattered,
sinking in sorrow’s wine-dark swells.
Maybe, if I’m lucky, they’ll toss and turn
till anguish smooths solid, heaves back
on the sand in mermaid tears,
bright as doll’s eyes in the salt spray,
drying to a gauzy bluebottle glitter
as the sun fingers them. Maybe
they’ll rise, jewel-winged, flutter
in Icarus clouds against
a slate blue sky—
Ulysses, Blue Morpho, Common Blue.
Linda Mills Woolsey’s poems have appeared in Anglican Theological Review, The Cresset, Christian Century, Coal Hills Review, Relief, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and other journals. A native of Western Pennsylvania and Emeritus Professor of English at Houghton College, she lives in Rushford, NY with her husband, two cats and a comforting stash of books.