Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Yellow

on the wharf 
that day
such a sunny day
I wore the yellow dress
so bright it hurt your eyes
how you liked it
couldn’t stop
            talking about it
then there was that
I nearly sat on
lying on the passenger 
seat waiting for me to exclaim
            whisky rose 
whisky whisky rose
you’d have thought
I’d have known
            there were 
no more yellow dresses
after the wharf dress
or not one that I
remember – I dreamt
of a wedding dress in
yellow but
lost my nerve 
and there was the tie
I selected in London
too orange
not yellow at all 
you said
a true 
yellow is hard to find
you exchanged it for
something red
and the yellow
for the walls
            was another disaster
you shook
your head and started
bringing home
daffodils in and out of
propping them up
critically in vases 
now that yellow
is the way to go
that’s a yellow
as if I wouldn’t know
a yellow 
            if I fell over it                
you started testing me
pulling to the side
of the road by
fields and buildings
asking if I liked that yellow
that particular yellow
I had to be on my mettle
you’d start again on
what made yellow yellow
as if that was
the first rule of colour
             and somehow I’d missed it
one day passing a shop
that sold antiques you yelped
and ran gleefully in
your arms every which
pointing at this wall and this
and then you pointed at me
            on the pavement with the kids
and the woman
wrote something on
the back of a card and
gave it to you
it said
beanleigh you mouthed at me
through the glass
and all the way
            you couldn’t
stop talking about it
it was as clear as day
you’d at last found a colour
you could
live with

                                               mary mccallum

Oh this is an old poem and much played with, even today I've played with the lines again - until the moment when I pressed 'publish' (after in fact, she says, updating at 11.37 AM on Tuesday).

I like the rhythm, the conversational flow (including asides), the way the thoughts scramble down the page. The things it says and doesn't say. 

Do visit the Tuesday Poem hub with Belinda Hollyer as editor this week. 


susan t. landry said...

it says so much, mary, in that walking sideways, now you see it/now you don't way that i find so compelling.

lillyanne said...

I like this enormously - I'm so glad you've posted it.

Mark Pirie said...

Hi Mary, I like this poem. Very evocative. Have you seen Alistair Campbell's love poem 'Yellow'. Very different poems of course, but worth reading also. It was in the "Love Poems" collection I published by Meg and Alistair.

Mary McCallum said...

Thanks Susan, Belinda and Mark. I like that 'walking sideways' - and I have read 'Yellow', Mark, in that gorgeous collection you published but had forgotten it - will read it again. It is a tricky colour -- I guess most poems would write of it as a sunny celebratory thing. For me, it's much more problematic.... as you can see...

KAT ADL'S said...

Do you know I just want to sound like a teenager and say I love this poem. and I love yellow.Its the colour to plant to plant in your driveway to say welcome.Its expansive and its endless.I am enjoying how you melded all the emotions and tension associated with the colour into this.
Thanks for the tuesday poems.

Mary McCallum said...

Kat, thank you! So glad you loved the poem and TP. I just had a look at your blog and the photos of your friend's workspace are just lovely, as are the rest. Thank you for visiting...

Melissa Green said...

Mary, this is wonderful and the mood moves like a strange sunlight on the pavement under the literal feet of the poem--the glory of that unmatchable dress and the love there; then the trials to replace the color (which also includes youth, young love, a perfect day) then the sort of panic to examine your take on that by now mythical color--is it close? Can we repeat it? Can we find it? Does it even exist? The looking for is for a brush loaded with color and longing and unspoken disappointments and mistakes. Lovely, Mary. xo

Mary McCallum said...

VS - thank you. Your reading of the poem takes my breath away. Not only did you get the 'strange sunlight' in it and the 'loaded' brush - but you amplify this and make me see it afresh. For example, I hadn't thought of the dress as the holy grail of yellow, for even in its glory it hurt the eyes, and the colour yellow became so problematic subsequently that the dress itself became part of the problem ... but yes, it is of course the holy grail and along with it youth and love. I like that. I love, too, your comments about seeking the 'by now mythical colour'... and the question: 'does it even exist?' is a very interesting question indeed.

Pam Morrison said...

Mary, I love the way yellow streams through this poem, the perfect pitch of colour found then sought then found again. I like the way it dogs you in the best possible way - I get the feeling there could be years of history in here. I like the repeating of the word itself, it's so open throated - so ... yellow! I know about the hunt for perfect platonic ideal of yellow - my partner and I had different epiphanies. He painted the room, and he loves it. It's not right! Too much butterscotch! Perhaps redemption will come as a poem.

Mary McCallum said...

Pam, oh no - butterscotch! If you'd been my husband you'd have insisted on a repaint. And you're right - how wonderful - the word 'yellow' is open-throated. The 'yell' and the 'ow' in there, it's not a quiet, modest word like 'lilac'. I tried to reproduce the short 'e' and 'o' and 'll' and w' sounds elsewhere in the poem, too, to echo it... I like that he's 'gleeful' when he finds his yellow...