By Kate Bluett - Texas, USA - Ordinary Time/All Saints 2011



We'd had the old thing sitting 'round for years,
a box of crayons, a roommate's hand-me-down,
the sixty-four bright colors hardly used.
No use, but new, too good to go to waste,
and so it sat and waited for its day.
Then all the stars of self-will seem'd aligned,
and then at last we let ourselves beget
and bear a child. The crayons were then for him,
but newborns don't exactly color much.
Another newborn came and learned to walk
before the first was ready for that box,
before he learned that crayons were toys, not food.
Then I at last could open up the lid
and breathe again the odors of Crayola.
(I hadn't smelled that perfume since... oh, gosh...
There's nothing else that smells like that, is there?)

A brand-new box of crayons, their colors bright,
their edges sharp, their papers crisp, unpeeled,
their names arcane, illuminated texts
that ring like ancient antiphons in me.
For green and yellow-green and fern and pine
and jungle green and bright spring green, sea green
and mint and olive and green-yellow, these
and all the tests to tell them all apart
come flooding back with all the pow'r of scent
to stir what has lain dormant in the mind,
just as the incense rarely used at Mass
brings back the faces of forgotten priests.
The box is open; I breathe deeply in
and reach at random for a single crayon.
I take, I draw. The soft wax marks the page,
and I am filled with color. Set it down,
and reach again to test another crayon...


My three-year-old is peeling off the husks
and lining up the fruits, naked and bright,
across the kitchen table, smiling proud.
"Look, Mommy; I got all the papers off!"
"Oh. Yes, dear. So you did." No use to say,
"Now, don't do that again!" to three-year-olds,
and so he goes on peeling, one by one,
and laughing as he sets each color down.
The blank page beckons—does it ever not?—
for green and yellow-green and soft sea-foam
and violet-red, magenta, tangerine,
and red and blue and black and one white crayon
that must, somewhere in God's mind, have a purpose.
And I, without a missal leading me,
reach out and take the naked wax in hand
and offer God my colors without words.