The Paradoxical Glories of Yellow; Poem “Juicy”

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Lately, I have been preoccupied by the color yellow in all its shades and names: butter, champagne, dandelion, sulphur, oat straw, yolk (cooked, whole, and broken), cut honeycomb, pollen, sandstone, dune, parchment, lamplight, amber, topaz, cream, ocher, gold, marigold, wheat, lemon, hay, neon, lemon and lemonade, corn and cornsilk.

Borscht

Yellow and I have an unquiet relationship, oscillating between attraction and repulsion.  It isn’t a color that has ever been flattering for me to wear–it makes me look rather sickly–but one grey February, about ten years ago, I was drawn to a swingy, yellow coat of bouclé wool at a vintage shop. It had three textured yellow buttons the size of silver dollars. Every where I went, people noticed. I felt I carried the sun with me.

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Until the day I put it on and felt like Big Bird!  I no longer own that coat, but I do hope it makes someone else happy.

Wedding III

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In the Feng Shui baqua, the nine-square grid used in the Chinese art of placement, the central square, the one that stands for health, is yellow. Certainly in this grey time of year, the merest ray of yellow sunlight makes me understand the poetry of this traditional assignment. And yet, yellow also can indicate ill-health or age. Think of jaundice, yellowing of white linens or lace, yellowed ivory, teeth, or pages. Yellowed with Age

(Above, Mr. Robert Nichols, the archivist at the American Swedish Institute, is holding open a nineteenth-century diary to show Julia.)

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Yellow Rainbow

Given yellow’s central position in the spectrum of visible light, it makes sense that, in addition to its pure form, it slides easily into the realms of tan, white, green, and orange.

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Yellow Abstract

Lemon Yellow Magnolia Two 2014

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Whether natural or artificial, yellow commands attention–from daffodils, sunflowers, autumn leaves, and sunlight to highlighters, Post-It Notes, school buses, police tape, traffic signs and road lines. On this snowy day, I appreciate the chance to share these favorite photographs starring YELLOW  as well as a poem inspired by a photo with contrasting natural and artificial hues.

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Ducks on the River

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Juicy

After Labor Day, at the tail end of summer,
a yearly festival transforms
Bridge Square, that triangular wedge
of green that marks the heart of town.
For two days it becomes a warren
of food carts, bingo tents, even
a beer garden whose sour smell
mingles with corn dogs, tortillas, spun sugar.

Now, nearly tripping on the thick, black cables
snaking over the crosswalk, I stop,
longing suddenly for lemonade.
I pay
the man in the black shirt.
He takes dimpled fruit, pointed at both ends
like petite footballs, the shape
of things to come, certain as frost.

While he squeezes and gazes
at the river sliding past, my own gaze wanders.
I rock on my heels, am jolted
by yellow shafts, long fluorescent tubes
on the cart’s black ceiling, colliding,
in my eye, with a vertical column
of waxy lemons clustered in tiered baskets.

Two lines of yellow converge –
the tip of an arrow,
the zig of lightening – all
on a clear day, signifying (perhaps)
danger, direction, or simply illumination,
the thrill that can rush upon the heart
from a simple shift in perspective.

The man in the black shirt
hands me a paper cup, tips his black cap.
As I lean in to receive it,
the yellow lines diverge.
Behind me the queue surges.
I turn
toward the bridge, walk to the middle,
sip sweetness released from a wheel
of luminous pulp bound by bitter peel.

Leslie Schultz

Juicy

Wishing you well, 

Sig Leslie in Yellow

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7 thoughts on “The Paradoxical Glories of Yellow; Poem “Juicy”

  1. Hi Beth,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I will look at the link in a bit. But, for now, you remind me of my own March travels to Italy in 1997–just in time for the glories of mimosas for International Women’s Day that were everywhere–and to the Loire Valley in 2009 with Julia–she wrote a beautiful poem called “March in Blois” about the daffodils among the grey stones of the steps to the Chateau. So, you have opened my eyes, too! Leslie

  2. This post made me stop in my tracks and think about yellow. Your photos are beautiful and fun. The placement of yellow in the Feng Shui grid and in the rainbow is not something I’d contemplated much. To end with your poem … sigh. The perfect thing during the gray days as I’ve come to think of March in Tulsa. I remember traveling to Ireland in mid-March and walking into the airport and seeing daffodils everywhere – nothing but daffs. Apparently Ireland has a Daffodil Day to rally against cancer. I had to look it up so here’s the story: http://www.cancer.ie/get-involved/fundraise/major-fundraising-drives/daffodil-day/about-daffodil-day#sthash.94X02dft.dpbs
    I’ll never forget walking into the airport and seeing thousands of daffodils (my favorite spring flower) and then driving through the countryside of western Ireland and seeing clusters of daffodils everywhere. Your post reminded me of that as well as expanding my sense of and eye for yellow!

  3. Thank you for your comments, Carolyn.
    Perhaps one day I shall do a study of … PINK! Leslie

  4. Thank you Leslie. I’ve never had so much fun with Yellow. Just because it doesn’t look good on me, I can see I should still engage with it, and benefit

  5. Hi Bonnie Jean,

    I believe you do! I would love to post your own photos someday. Leslie

  6. Juicy! I love it! Interestingly, I have had the same reaction to the brilliance of the yellow in that food truck. I suspect the yellow fluorescent lights make the lemons look all the more inviting. It works for me! And I love the hanging baskets. Thanks for another truly delightful post. Leslie. I believe I recall when you captured the mustard blossom field!

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