Cadmium Red

Poetry by Kristen Tetzmann 

My most ravenous affairs
have always been with French men.
Henri brought me to fruition,
worshiped the hue of my body;
I was the purest cherry.
He rubbed me in linseed oil,
pounded me into his stretched linen.
Afterwards, in the hum of our satisfaction,
he patted me dry with sheepskin,
and scrubbed his fingers of my scent.

He’d tried to pass me off to his friend, Auguste.
You spread so easily, he’d said, 
I want others to experience you.
But Auguste hadn’t known what to do 
with my wild intensity as I stripped
and seeped into his unadorned cloths. 

Raphael and Titian couldn’t know
that vermilion darkened in the sun,
and Vincent was long dead
before he would witness
minimum whiten in light.
Henri knew my worth,
how long I’d last. 

He always said I was the best
he’d ever had, yet I’d stood idly 
by as he began to choose alizarin,
naphthol, and quinacridone over me.
So, I oozed into the pores of his clothes,
stained his elbows, caressed his easel, 
hardened over the tips of his brushes—
and waited.

Years passed before I’d observed
my beloved breathe me in
and cough out a color
almost as vivid as me.  

About the Author:

Kristen Tetzmann studies Creative Writing and Art Therapy at Mount Mary University. Her work has appeared in Arches and Respect Your Mother. She knows how to say “watermelon” in twenty-six languages. 

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