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March 29, 2020

Thinking Red — Amy Clampitt

Swamp maples' unmasked sugars'
underhue, intense as madder,
alizarin or cochineal (a dyestuff

steamed from heaped corpses of an insect
native to Mexico: such the odd lore
of commerce in the exotic a bemused

E. Dickinson took note of): to
grub it out, the sense of it, down
to the madder's fraying final foothold,

the capillaries' threadily
untidy two–way form of discourse;
T. Hardy's ruddleman trundling

his dyeload of ocher; or
the bog–dwelling sanguinary
pitcher plant whose drowning dens

decoct a summer soup of insects
whose mainstay in turn is gore:
the clotted winter melancholy

of the sumac; hawthorn encrimsoned,
dogwood beaded the adorning
pigment of survival; the eyeball's globed,

dendritic riddle: to unencode
the hematite, the iron in the granite,
the carmine in the carapace, one has

to try to think in wavelengths. Light
has, we're told—I have it from G.
Wald—certain properties of waves

but also of particles. That's very
strange: G. Wald again.
Mind stuff, he tells us: physical

reality is mind stuff. In creatures
that puzzle over what it is, he says,
the universe begins to know itself.

Is this good news? I hope so. It's
that holdout, put–upon, reluctant
red (I think) that raises half a doubt.


March 29, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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