Meditations on the Discovery of Green

— Cleo Qian

                                                                                      Humid-struck, tornado warning.

Into each room walking, observing the ways light freezes:
greenish, jewel-eerie, humid, motion-paused-glow-haze
binding leaves to stillness, preserving the fish-bird on the curtain pane,
the Vermont sofa’s blue heather—
even mourning is silenced.
Feeling, a stopped lung.

Only the clivia leaves take on a sharpness.

                                         When Joseph Priestly discovered oxygen,
                                         he documented it was “five or six times as good
                                       as common air… I fancied that my breast felt peculiarly
                                       light and easy.”
And Lavoisier, who named it, was guillotined.
                                         “They filled the grave and put sheaves of flowers on it,”

Marie Curie lamented in her journal, when Pierre died,
hit by a cart. After her life was ended, this time from
radiation, her body was buried twice. Does the pursuit
of knowledge lead always to death or is death the asymptotic
limit knowledge strives to arrives at?

                                                   I wanted the shining jungle green rubber tree
                                                                                 to thicken, make permanent time.

One of the first green pigments, malachite, used by ancient Egyptians,
was noted to blacken with age. In 1775 Carl Scheele,
who produced phosphorus (enabling matches) also created a green:
Scheele’s green, composed with arsenic.
Despite its brilliance and use in wallpapers, it, too, blackened.            As for verdure,
which seems undeniable—

           But you know I have stopped all my wishing.
           Tried; tried stopping.            Continued.

When the storm did not come, and the wind passed.
When the green stopped. When time, no longer stopped,
returned movement, though not as gift.

And to my breast returned the common feeling. Gravity’s unalterable lack-light.
Leaf-bent, vegetable creations still seem
to be keeping secret knowledge.
           “Illusory”—from Late Latin—play:
           how the depth of the cloud measures the depth of the color.
Red horizon striking air water striking our human windows facing south, or southeast.

                                         Empty, another night in my hands, breathing:

The performance of loss as recitation.            & how the air, resuscitated, recedes.

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