When I was younger, I used to practice signing my name with magnificent silver fountain pens borrowed from my father’s desk—whether it was for future autographs or just to perfect my penmanship is unclear. I would make large, cursive loops with the first letters of my four names, with the final “S” winding up above with a fantastic curve. My pen would never leave the page as I signed, letting the deep, cobalt blue ink seep and spread between the paper fibers. I was entranced by the blue expanding on the page—the same way it feels watching cornflower blues in the sky fade into a blue-almost-white as it meets the horizon. Or looking into the deep end of my neighborhood pool, the dark blue ominous and beckoning. I love blue, and blue makes me feel loved. It makes me feel as small as a robin’s egg or as wide as the Pacific ocean; I have cases of the blues, but I can also boogie down to Eiffel 65 (I'm blue da ba dee da ba daaa...). Blue is more than a color, it is a mood. It’s a full spectrum with subtle tones on one end and extreme vividness on the other. Blue has something for everyone, and this issue deals with all its shades.
Callie Zucker relates her love of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” album and explores being vulnerable: maybe we should try to be more open to being broken, and life will reward with color. Or perhaps consider how you’d feel living next to a cemetery? Maddie McCann asks this question and meditates on the various, intriguing responses that cemetery-adjacent homeowners gave . (You might consider future properties close to corpses after!) Kat Snoddy sheds light on a mystical artist whom art history has overlooked, while Hannah Stoll deconstructs the “big bad wolf” myth, exposing the politics of wolf reintroduction to Colorado. Check out Westly Joseph’s account of her time at the UN Climate Change Conference and learn why bad wine is helping combat climate change . Enjoy Sara Fleming’s illuminating piece which points out the value and restorative qualities of acupuncture, based on her Colorado Springs acupuncture experience. And if you’re feeling nostalgic (or just want to appreciate a fantastic piece of fiction) read Elena Perez’s story on the dynamics and drama of life as a middle schooler—how we grow up, perhaps too quickly.
There are seventy-six official shades of blue, which maybe accounts for the variety of blue-inspired works in existence. Between beer names and song lyrics and an animated puppy that looks for clues, blue is a consistent source of creativity. One such product comes from the late, magnificent Mary Oliver with her collection “Blue Horses.” Like Joni Mitchell, Oliver unearths a beauty and delicacy that kills me tenderly. Despite my lack of spirituality, I find her words deeply sacred and challenging to my very essence. Her work embodies what I think of as blue—an acute and raw blend of fierce joy and lingering melancholy. In one of her later poems in the collection, called “When Death Comes,” she writes, “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life / I was a bride married to amazement. / I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. / When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder / if I have made of my life something particular, and real. / I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened, / or full of argument. / I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” Ms. Oliver was no passing visitor, she built a home and invited you in to wonder at the world with her. Hopefully, we can give some semblance of the same experience; either way, we invite you in to wonder, learn, and above all, be blue.
Imagine this in beautiful blue ink,
Elizabeth Ann Tucker Smith (and the rest of Cipher Staff)
Blue Issue | February 2019