Purple is Really Light Blue


  She has Synesthesia, a word I’ve never heard before tonight. With her thick accent, I couldn’t decipher her pronunciation – nor could I spell it in my head- like I often do with words when I hear them for the first time. I had to look up her condition when I got home.

She stood at the podium and read her poetry, with musicality in her voice, and interspersed her readings with stories about the complexities of perceiving words in colors. “Purple is Really Light Blue,” Marlena said, finding humor in her own neurological phenomenon. And, I wrote that down, “Purple is Really Light Blue,” thinking she titled her own brilliant poem. One she should write instead of me.  

But, I also fancy myself a bit of a poet, and I coined her phrase. I stole it right there on the spot. I couldn’t help myself, especially since Marlena gave me permission when she loosely quoted T.S. Eliot from her brightly lit pulpit in the auditorium, “Bad poets imitate. Good Poets Steal.” Her phrase, so good, it needed to be stolen, even if by the likes of me. 

I don’t have Synesthesia. But, when in debate I am told my ideas are contrary, or my perceptions are even a tiny bit off, I’ll simply smile and say, “That’s okay, purple is really light blue.” 

-Tonia Allen Gould
Inspired by Malena Mörling, renowned poet at the Ojai Valley School Poetry Reading – 4/4/16 

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