edited by Misti Morrison
We’re excited for the chance to play host to a lovely poem by Trista Edwards, Denton-based writer, editor, and exquisite candlemaker. Trista has been a friend of the Spiderweb for a while but more recently joined us on stage as a performer for the first time at this year’s 80’s-inspired Winter Formal in January and we’re proud to welcome her to our ranks of featured poets here on the site!
Trista was inspired to write by an article describing painter’s pigments now lost to history or made rare by time. “Museum of the Rarest Colors” hails from a collection inspired by the loss of these colors. “I love using history, art, scent, and beautiful objects as basis of my poems,” Trista says. “There's a story in everything.” This piece is a welcome whiff of something cold and spooky to send a chill down your spine as the seasons change to something warmer.
Light a candle when you sit down to read this one. Let it guide your way.
Museum of the Rarest Colors
I. Mummy Brown.
The man who daubed you into the iris
of Nimue’s gaze learned your origins.
Not just pitch and myrrh but bodies—
bone, flesh, jarred organ of Egypt. Civilization
squeezed from a tube. Caput mortuum,
to alchemists. Worthless remains, dead head.
He buried you beneath the hollyhock
avowing never to paint your raw umber
in a snarl of a beggar maiden’s hair again.
You are a museum. More than a gob
of bitumen tombed in some dalliance
hanging from a hook. You’re revival.
Until you are buried again or wrecked in a fire.
Each time your color blends and bleeds with dirt.
You stain the notes of Bach—
Partita in D minor for violin no. 2.
Your high shine glazing the bow’s
pigment crafts an ink of sound,
rubicund in appearance,
forsaking in strain. You, the woebegone
first wife of genius. The Royal Court
Composer. I wonder how much red
stained the bend of my grandfather’s
the one my grandmother sold
at a tag sale. I saw it once
but memory’s faded as sheet paper.
your particular shade on the panels
of his pickup, the one always loaded
with deer carcasses, wide-eyed and fixed.
The maroon pickup—
that slid off the ramps as he tinkered below
and all your color left his body. Your music
running out of his hands.
You are the crushed waxy hull
of a parasitic beasty. Found leech
to the pad of prickly pear cati,
scraped remorseless with dried, black,
lopped-off tails of mule deer.
You’re an orchard of crimson pearls
set to harvest, dry, and flatter
the carmine frosted lips of a maiden
kiss. A smeared maquillage of eggs,
the weight of thousand tiny deaths
rouged into the pucker of lounge bar
sirens. You are meant to protect,
a ruddy shield to keep creatures at bay—
but only when still husked in the body
of your maker. Caked on the mouth,
you are the color of weapon. Sorcery.
Beguiling. Mark of the witch.
In medieval times, women crimsoned
their lips, met the same glow in flames,
were consumed in a ball of rosy heat.
And like the heat, you keep coming back.
Painted targets on the strident maws of warriors,
Diviners casting spells and chants. Heed me,
they say, heed all that this color brings.
You, you the wrath of ancestors, ghosts.
I stain my lips with warning.
Trista Edwards is a senior writer at Luna Luna Magazine. She is also the curator and editor of the anthology, Till The Tide: An Anthology of Mermaid Poetry (Sundress Publications, 2015). You can read her poems at 32 Poems, Quail Bell Magazine, Moonchild Magazine, The Adroit Journal, The Boiler, Queen Mob's Tea House, Bad Pony, Occulum, and more. She creates magickal candles at her company, Marvel + Moon.
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