The creation of red, told by Sydney Guilaroff, Lucille Ball’s hair colorist
Her grade school science teacher spoke of wavelengths,
which the child thought referred to something aquatic.
But when Miss McCullough held the prism to the light,
she forgot the name of every ocean.
This is the longest wave, the teacher said. The first the eye can hold.
The girl’s head of straw was never right again,
so she left home with it under her arm, fed it
bread to keep it warm and talking, about life and lemons
and other cliches she’d have to burn on the way to herself.
Syd, she said, can you save us?
The color couldn’t know whether it was cheap or refined,
so I used Merlot teeth and the zest of ten oranges,
squeezed the juice and stung my fingers.
I found her roots and dug up the dead.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Lefty.
Ten thousand men couldn’t carry
what that head was holding.
We shared the color’s last private moment
and gave it a name to go by when it left us.