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Blue 422

My father wakes

the machines at 4 am

while drinking his coffee

heavy cream 4 sugars

He is going to die one day

Today he is making a blue

to be used in eye shadow

It’s not the same

kind of blue plastered on police cars

or the kind set in rhinestones

It all depends on the temperature

He takes his time

checking the machines

Today each drying belt

needs to be at 900 degrees

for 8 hours to get this shade

to reach its full potential

It’s important to be precise

my father says

The machines reach 455 degrees

He sweats alone through

his denim pants, a different kind

of blue made in Vietnam

He wipes his forehead

work sweat is like beach sweat

it is all evenly distributed

like a good coat of paint

When they are ready

the machines hiss at him

the alarm sounds and my father

enters the code on the keypad

It takes one man to make a good coat of paint

In eight hours slabs of blue will process

down the belt presenting themselves—

not like children at graduation

or baseball players after a big game

but as blades of grass

resurrected after a long

winter in upstate New York

where the snow is deadly

and the furnaces beat themselves

into exhaustion howling steam through blue rooms—

not mountain blue not hospital blanket blue

but the deep midnight blue

at the center of my father’s knuckles

that one Fourth of July he set his hand

on fire with a set of Pennsylvania shooters

I pressed the ice over his fingers

while he finished his beer and listed

the types of apples grown in our county

 

 

 

 

 

Gabrielle Otero was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. She recently received her MFA in Writing with a concentration in poetry and literary translation from Columbia University. Her poetry has appeared in you are here: the journal of creative geography. She currently works in television production and divides her time between the Bronx and Albany, NY.