On hyacinths opening

04 Feb



it said

on the plastic label

and I wondered as I set

the basket on the table

what kind of red?

And so I pondered.


The red of sunsets,

of robins’ breasts,

of anger

or traffic lights,

of jelly tongue twisters

or sunrises that, warning

shepherds or sailors,

in the morning

are simply red.



hue of pomp and circumstance,

or flagrant


of shame

or fame;

a colour with a dual nature,

Is scarlet.



speaks for itself

of injury or death;

of class (though maybe then it’s blue)

of ancestry,

(it may

be used in heraldry),

of diverse things like

fox hunting and the final brush

(though not the coats)

and geraniums,

does blood.



royal, yet

colour of shame.

Cheeks, stained,

may be aristocratic

but derided.

It can be literary

contrasted with white.

The very word

echoes with jewels

and depths

and night,

or gorgeous knights


in crimson.



states gems outright

but lips too,

ready to be kissed,

and apples or plums


for the picking,

the eating,

the stealing.

It hints of larceny,


and desire,

does ruby.



is just a foreign way

to say


and can have shades

of ruby

crimson, scarlet

or any other red

unless it’s in a paint tray.

Every meaning we assign

to each of those we attach, too,

to vermilion.


For a week

I watered the basket


while the buds stayed tight

and green;

no red to be seen,

then the sun must

have reached within

and told

the petals to unfold.

They were not red at all

but deep, deep, deepest pink,

beautiful and scented

but not

(most definitely not)




Posted by on February 4, 2017 in poetry



4 responses to “On hyacinths opening

  1. Elizabeth Glover

    February 4, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    )h Mrs Moth… this is lovely. It is what words DO – they talk with you, discuss and debate with you… oh SUPER, and then Real Life butts in. Pink, deep deep PINK. and all I can find to go with that.. Is

    Oh Pink, deep Pink,
    You make me think
    of babies ears, inside.
    Of dead shells, gaping wide.
    There aren’t a lot of jewels
    of deep pink that fuels
    questions about the source..
    But Pink, there is blancmange


    I love all your ‘findings’ words… I travelled all over the place with them and curled my tongue round the taste of Ruby and Crimson and all the dark places those colours have been.

    Thank you.

    • jaymountney

      February 4, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      What colours shall we turn our attentions to next, then?! I’m so glad you enjoyed my look at ‘red’. I was dubious when I saw the label and rather suspected the flowers would be pink, but waited with great anticipation to see!

  2. Margaret

    February 5, 2017 at 1:26 am

    Just lovely!

    • jaymountney

      February 5, 2017 at 11:21 am

      Thank you! You got a preview of the coloured version so you knew what to expect!


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