Aspirational Self Portrait on the Color Wheel

Aspirational Self Portrait on the Color Wheel | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Soap bubble, mezzotint by M. Rapine, after an image by Alexandre-Blaise Desgoffe; plate VI in Le monde physique (1882). Courtesy of the Public Domain Review.

Lips, perhaps, in Pyrrole Red (pigment used in automotive finishes):
my first car, a small Ford built
to replace (impossible) the Mustang.

Eyes designed by Guignet of Paris, who patented the process
for Viridian Green in 1859. Some thought
it could replace all other greens.

Eyebrows Bone Black, my favorite contradiction,
from use of charred animal bone as pigment.
It battles the Umbers

and Van Dyke Brown, an old soul from 17th century
for my hair, though in reality approaching
Paynes Grey, named for British painter

William Payne (about the time of Wordsworth,
though the watercolorist did not live so ripely long).
His is a story of success and sadness

(innovation and degeneration),
best known for this neutral tint
comprising Indigo, Raw Sienna and Lake:

the name of my future band.
Were the colorists to name a shade after me,
one that flatters,

I would say: Seyburn’s Verjus
(I used some in a recipe last night)
so that most of us would have to look up two words.

Patty Seyburn has published five collections of poems. Threshold Delivery is the most recent. She is a professor at California State University, Long Beach.
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