Saturday, April 17, 2010

On Seeing Red

Staring out the window into increments of green there is a red interruption from across the street in bristles of bottle brush plant. In the foreground outside my patio a hummingbird feeder matches the coral tree blooming red lanterns and I am suddenly aware how red splatters the width of my canvas as accessories to the fact.

Above the couch where I am sitting, an abstract construction of blues and white resin under cut glass is punctuated by a corner drunk with red. It’s a voluptuous touch like a smear of lipstick …. or blood.

A hemorrhagic sun splashes into the Pacific exhausted from the day’s smog. Blood rare, my friend tells the waitress and he sends the burger back. What accounts for that uncontrollable blush? There’s a freeway system of arteries inside me with overpasses and cloverleafs. No Sig alerts, I hope.

Larry King’s suspenders meet Sarah Palin’s jacket. The Mao Tse Tung T-shirt brought back from China ran all over the whites in the washing machine like some sort of revolutionary army.

I hear before I see the fire engine barreling down Lincoln Blvd. Peggy imagines angels following the truck. The red light on my dashboard gets my attention and the stop sign I sometimes obey. If I make this light I’ll have the next five….and then what?

Red is with us from Christmas through Valentine’s Day then drowns in red ink but returns in a summery way, hot and ripe and busting out all over. Firecracker red and freckles, Van Gogh’s beard and Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers.

When I hear Red Diaper baby I get no image but I’m one of them. Headline: Red army meets G.I.s at the Elbe and then there was the Red Army Chorus which could hold its own against the Mormon Tabernacle Choir except they probably didn’t know Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Did Donner and Blitzen have noses of a different hue?

What are you rambling on about? Wake me up when you’re finished.
I will if I don’t have a clot.
It could be worse. You could start listing baseball players.
I would never abuse the page that way..

But who could forget Red Ryder, Red Skelton and Red Barber off on those red sails in the sunset? When Spencer Tracy had red hair all his movies were in black and white. Jefferson was not our only redheaded president; some say Washington was, under his wig and Grover Cleveland. And don’t forget Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth, Churchill, Woody Allen and Vivaldi. Was there anyone who wasn’t?

The cardinal we saw in Washington DC was ho-hum for our hosts but I never forgot it nor will I forget the buds on the ocotillo or Roger’s red sweater he wore till, I suppose, it unraveled back to yarn. There’s something about red. Expected in Chinese restaurants; unexpected on a grey day with marine air rolling in like some bearded prophet, an offering in his hand of a long stem sweaty rose.

About forty years ago I suggested to my daughter she might like to travel inside a watermelon. Part of her has been there ever since and sometimes I join her sailing this ruddy-luscious sea, black pits and all.


  1. Beware! There is a red stain seeping through your shirt. At least that is what the photo looks like. Smile and pass the ketchup, please.

  2. That shirt is one of several I have which is an abstract design of mutiple colors; a cross between Jackson Pollock and Sam Francis, something I'd hang on the wall. My secret reason for wearing them is that I can spill spaghetti sauce all over myself and get away with it.