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Kermes Red

By Melissa Range Poetry

Called crimson, called vermilion—“little worm” in both the Persian and the Latin, red eggs for the carmine dye, the insect’s brood crushed stillborn from her dried body, aswarm in a bath of oak ash lye and alum to form the pigment the Germans called Saint John’s blood— the saint who picked brittle locusts for food,…

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Orpiment

By Melissa Range Poetry

King’s yellow for the king’s hair and halo, mixed if the monastery can’t afford the shell gold or gold leaf to crown the Lord, to work the letters of his name, the Chi-Ro, in trumpet spirals and triquetras, the yellow a cheap and lethal burnishing, the hoard not gold but arsenic and sulfur. The Word…

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