Describing Blue to My Colorblind Friend

by Teresa White
Wild Poetry Forum
Third Place, June 2013
Judged by Linda Sue Grimes


Blue is standing in the ocean up to your breastbone,
the surging base of the wave moving over you.
It is the scent of rain and rain itself.
Blue is the color of a black lab’s eyes
or the smudge of a bruise on your inner arm
that has no explanation.

Blue is lobelia cascading from a porch planter;
the color of leftover instant mashed potatoes,
the color of choice.

Blue is the complement of yellow,
the sky and sun. Blue is the stain
that won’t come out when the crime is done.

Blue is born with the pluck of a string
across an old cigar box. Blue is the color of company,
the three-piece suit, the taffeta dress.

Blue is the knitted cap for the male preemie,
the rubber stopper at the end of a feeding tube,
the color of hospital sweats, the sound of goodbye.


The speaker in “Describing Blue to My Colorblind Friend” translates the color “blue” into emotions called forth by the color. Blue can be soothing to the skin like “standing in the ocean up to your breastbone,” yet it can be the result of pain “the smudge of a bruise on your inner arm.” The speaker uses not only tactile and visual images to explain the color but also auditory, “the pluck of a string / across an old cigar box,” olfactory, “the scent of rain,” and gustatory, “leftover instant mashed potatoes.” The final image of “the sound of goodbye” being a feature of “blue” waxes consummately appropriate. The colorblind friend can be grateful for this montage of blueness that offers a useful sensory dictionary of this fabulous color. --Linda Sue Grimes

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