"Colour / Field / Memories"

Amanda Earl

Amanda Earl (she/her) makes poetry, prose, visual poetry, and whimsy. Her books are A World of Yes (2015), Kiki (2014), and Coming Together Presents Amanda Earl (2014). Her latest chapbook is Sessions from the DreamHouse Aria (above/ground, 2020). She is the managing editor of Bywords.ca and the fallen angel of AngelHousePress. She is the recipient of the 2017 Tree Reading Series Chapbook Award for Electric Garden and was inducted into the VERSeOttawa Hall of Honour in 2014. Two of her manuscripts have been shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Innovative Poetry Award.

“‘Colour/Field/Memories’ responds to the paintings of Mark Rothko mentioned in the poem itself but also in general. Since 2009, I’ve had the idea to write a series of poems that does what Rothko and other colour field painters, such as Jack Bush, have done with colour — and with this poem, I’ve finally figured out how: laying memory side by side with emotion as the colour field painters did with colour. Memories are difficult to write about and sometimes evoke emotions of grief. Rothko’s work resonates with me for the subject of these memories, which come as swaths of colour and emotion in my dreams: desire as green; loss as magenta; grief as grey; passion as orange. I have grapheme synaesthesia, which means I experience colour with words, letters, numbers, pain.”
I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. — Mark Rothko

     we std in front of No. 16, 2 whites
     2 reds I retrn now / again
     to the Natl Gallry
     will prhps go back
     soon w/ mask on & wht I miss is convrsatn
     abt art I turn memories nto abstracts
     only good momnts—
     swths of colour

     more than a dcade snce
     ovr Guinness of course
     the brown in Rothko’s
     Brown & Gray filling up the pint glass
     ovr & ovr

     maroon, muted
     is that nght of the storm
     my unwllingnss to leave you
     how New Edinburgh shut dwn aftr 11pm
     we closed 1 pub & went to the othr
     at the bar we talked abt Portishead
     as the rain pounded agnst th wndow
     we drank anothr in th dark
     we both wnted to take the brtnder
     back to yr place he joined our convrsatn

     3 colours now
     the green of the wllow
     Untitled (Green Divided by
     Blue)

     you lying on top of me
     bneath the tree as the rain
     starts to fall but we are too
     busy kissing can’t stop
     yr hands ovr me, yr lips
     wet, a black tendril of yr hair
     brushing my forehead
     my dress w/ its low
     nckline & billowng skrt
     in Jly or ws it Jn
     I lost a sock, retrnd to the wllow
     brned incnse, mde plgrmages
     to the Gallry to revisit Rothko
     & you, to turn both of you
     into ghosts, holy & blasphemed
     silvr shivrs ovr my skin hand painted
     & framed in antique metal then I nearly
     died, tarnished w/ longing
     I, too, became a ghost

     in 1991 when the Natl Gallry prchased
     No. 16 fr 1.8 million ppl complained —
     their tax dollars, you know, how that goes

     I told yr g/f my dear frnd yrs latr
     it was all in my head erasing all but
     the colour of this, I keep in the chapel
     of memry, black engulfs the canvas