“Crayola Has a Contest to Name Its New Color Blue” by Heather Bell

Heather Bell


Varicose veins after birth. Your hands
during cancer. My unyielding legs
during the rape. The beer I dream of.
The joy I dream of. The sky when you
said yes, oh yes, I do have
cancer. And then you said please

leave me. Leave Me: a good name
for the color blue. Selling my handguns,
suicidal thoughts. Eating white rice,
too sad to make anything different.

Leave Me: a perfect name for the color
blue. Arrhythmia. Seizures. The long
slow terror of a heart rate monitor.
The way I casually whispered

Crayola has a contest about a new
color and you knew it was blue even
before I said it. You Knew It Was Blue:
a good name for a color. Because blue

is sadness but also the most relaxing
color to paint your walls. Research says.
A doctor walks in and we joke, blue jokes,
nothing off limits. The doctor says

a good name for the color blue
could be Flatline and I look at my shoes,
blue laces. It’s Not Funny: an interesting
name for the color blue. Please Don’t

Go: a terrible name for the color blue.
But that’s what you suggested
so we all laughed and I emailed
Crayola while crying and

I feel like there is lightning in my hands
to make a suggestion like that,
like the burning smell of death.

You said isn’t it funny how
veins look blue under your skin
but the blood is red when released
Isn’t It Funny: a name for the color blue.
The coldness of your feet
after you’re gone. Your eyelids.
The weird crust around your
mouth. The hospital bill, my pen,
throwing my purse at the doctor

saying why couldn’t you have
done anything more. All good names
for the color blue. A medium blue,
like Neptune, you said. Just look
up, it helps to look up. You Laughed:

a name for the color blue, a real
winner I think. The release of a heart
from another heart: just perfect.

from Rattle #65, Fall 2019


Heather Bell: “Once upon a time there was a six-foot-tall woman with blue hair and a sense of smallness. In her house was a teacup saying ‘girl, you got this!’ and on her wall was a kitten hanging from a clothesline. The kitten’s word balloon said something like, ‘Hang in there!’ or ‘Don’t let go!’ Always something with an exclamation mark. Isn’t that the moral of the story, always? There is always a small woman, hiding her grandness, trying to fill up on uplifting wordplay. But today, this small woman sits down and writes a poem in which she details her smallness and why she came to be that way. Another small woman reads it, and from the tip of her hair a fire starts, but just as quickly dies. Isn’t that why we are here? To write another poem for a small woman to read, and then another. Until the amount of sparks are too much for the quick extinguishing, and she is a woman on fire, exploding into the world.”

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