The history of blue is the story of a woman who lived between the sea and the sky.
One day she came home to a lover’s left letter. She tore it in halves and fed one to the water and one to the heavens. But the sea was clear and so was the sky and so every time she looked up or down she could still read him telling her goodbye in the air and the water.
Her body missed him, and it began to write a letter urging him back. Her blood scrawled its pain on flesh that began to tattoo itself, her longing a physical liquidity that cried out through her pores in golds and blues as her skin arced into goosebumped punctuation. She would wake up with scrollings of bluegreen cursive on her hands or down her thighs, lips bruised with Ohs and Ahs, his name necklaced across her throat, eyelids spattered with question marks, the half-remembered lyrics of lovesongs connecting the freckles on her legs.
She whispered puffs of breath on her body to quiet its message, or licked the language to bring it back in. Sometimes she pressed down on her skin and pushed through it like a pudding, smeared her fingers with the ink rising out of her, and put them in her mouth.
One day she tried to cool the prose on her hand by placing it in the sea, and the salt seeped in and the ink seeped out and when she lifted her arm up out of the water her hand had dissolved away. And so she went on, pain-marked and one-handed. One day she tried to erase the promises on her toes by kicking them up into the sky, but the sun stole them. And so she limped on with one foot, a tiny come-home shaped across it. The color began to leak out of her and patterned the ground with the vague slate shape of her body. Eventually her lungs filled with ink and she breathed out blue mists and when that was exhausted her lungs burned hot and colorless and she exhaled the clouds and then there was none of her left.
And that is why the sky is blue.
And that is why the sea is blue.
And that is why the clouds are white.
And that is how shadows were born.
[You can return to The Elizabeths this way.]