"Making Purple"

"Making Purple"

"Making Purple"

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
Nov. 18 2003 11:10 AM

Making Purple

Listen to Dan Chiasson reading this poem. Nibble what nibbles you, play dead, play bored;        play sad, shell gaping, like the cockle used for bait;

like the melting purple eat the mud, be seen through
         like the pebble purple, light and soft like the reef purple.

Imagine yourself suffusing a woman's gown or sheets
         your bloodstream running through a king's inkwell.

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Those rich dyes once were your ideas, your love
         of broccoli rabe. Half-killed cockles attract purples,

the reef is littered with open mouths waiting to snap.
         I am trying to make my pain attractive, my yearning

pretty. A man caught me in a fine-ply lobster pot.
         He scalded me until I nearly died, then threw me back.

I gape like this because of the ordeal. Did you foresee
         this moment, where what you intended to devour

devours you? Did you know they'd haul us up
         into the suffocating air, our bodies fused together?

He wrecked my body so that it looked like need.
         You made your insatiable greed appear like love.

Dan Chiasson's poems appear in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Threepenny Review, and elsewhere.