Nurple

“After the dandelions had spread like
    marmalade over the lawns, after
the lilacs had come white and purple

    and gone, then it was blueberrying”

—Thomas R. Moore, “Sex, Cousins, and Blueberrying”

In summer that year, we were nine
and ten, composed almost entirely
of mosquito bites and moxie, with
a quiver of sadness somewhere in
the middle, where we were still as
soft as children are. So we’d strike
each other’s biceps to show that
we weren’t soft at all, didn’t care
about broken things, a stolen bike,
after the dandelions had spread like

butter or the blood of all those bugs,
ladybugs, that we squashed, almost
always on accident. We just wanted
to look at them, hold them on blades
of grass that began to dry, shrivel in
the sun, our sweaty hands. Laughter
was almost not allowed; as we ate
fancy sandwiches our mothers made,
we were as silent as roof and rafter.
Marmalade over the lawns, after

we were done, stuck to the grass as
proof that we’d been there. We liked
to leave our mark. When we weren’t
quiet, we made noise, running down
the morning streets, discovering how
something as small as a loud burp will
disturb the great drift of silence behind
every closed window. We would lift our
shirts sometimes, check for a nurple.
The lilacs had come, white and purple;

we loved the word purple, and spent
all summer rhyming it as close as we
could, arriving at nurple also because
we couldn’t say the real word. It was
too much like health class, ridiculous
and scary, when we were tarrying
a while longer as girls, girls never
knowing how few the years were
before we’d both end up marrying
and gone. Then it was blueberrying.

 

For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge, Day 18. The prompt was to write a glosa, which is a completely crazy form. Crazy! You take four consecutive lines from someone else’s poem, then write four 10-line stanzas of your own. The final line of each stanza is from the other poem, in consecutive order — and lines six, nine, and 10 in each stanza have to rhyme. (I did not fully comprehend all of this before I chose a poem that contains the word purple.)

For the epigram (quoted poem), one reason I chose this one is that it is my “neighbor” on a preceding page in the Summer 2012 issue of Naugatuck River Review. Thomas R. Moore is from Brooksville, Maine, and sharp-eyed readers might find one place where I gave a nod to his home state. (Well, blueberries are Maine-ish, too, but it’s not that.)

 

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