That would have been an amazing color were the sea cobalt blue the day Jeri Theriault and a friend drove by it. I only know because on my way to the origin of the word in Webster’s 2nd International, I happened on both pages of the Color Chart, where number 85 burns a cold richness. In addition to imagining this color, we’re urged to feel the stone, as she felt the word inside her mouth as it came out in both cool syllables, tactile, narrow, sharp.
I’ve a newfound fondness, if not downright love for this word thanks to what goes on here in this poem, let alone its origin from the German kobold, goblin, or underground spirit. Of course, too, it’s an element, reminding us of the poet’s basic appreciation for the simplicity of this thing as it once took form in an earring, since lost, thus the play on the word Blue. In her affection for what was once in hand, then gone, we feel the melancholy as the missing jewelry (all four earrings) turn into “small blue prayers/virgin saints” in Jeri’s memory.
Cobalt blue dominates the subject matter here, a sensual delight to read again and again. With its elemental value, cobalt will remain up there close to iron and nickel on the Periodic Table, for suddenly the writer seems to reject it all in favor of something else. Ms. Theriault said that the lesson learned here on that day was to value her own perception, revisiting the intense conversation with her friend as they drove round the Back Bay.
No, she’ll settle for a simple pebble dropped from her hand, the color of which can remain “unnamed.” Funny, too, number 84 on the Color Chart, just below cobalt, is just that: unnamed.
* * * * *
I woke up thinking blue again
how you said cobalt was wrong
for the sea that day
but I liked the way it felt in my mouth
sharpness of it.
– I’ve lost four blue earrings
one, at least – cobalt
the others smoky or clear —
small blue prayers
But it’s an unnamed
blue I've always wanted,
pebble going blank in my hand
before I let it drop,
the sea disappearing in the rear view
as we traveled north. –Jeri Theriault
* * * * *
Jeri Theriault poems have been published in Paterson Literary Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Rattle, The Atlanta Review, and anthologies: Orpheus and Company, Contemporary Poems on Greek Mythology; French Connections: An Anthology of Poetry by Franco-Americans; and The Return of Kral Majales, Prague's International Literary Renaissance 1990-2010. A Fulbright recipient, Jeri holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is married to the composer, Philip Carlsen, and teaches in the English Department at Waynflete School.
Robert Gibbons’ Trilogy of prose poems, This Time, Traveling Companion, and To Know Others, Various & Free, is available from Nine Point Publishing.