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Issue 3.2

Summer 2023

Katharine Rauk


#Dressgate. Is the dress blue and black or white and gold? According to neuroscientist Beau Lotto, this question forces your brain to accept "two realities that are mutually exclusive....So you’re becoming an observer of yourself. You’re having tremendous insight into what it is to be human. And that’s the basis of imagination.”

Composition 101

How many ideas fit in a body

paragraph? my student asks me.


I don’t know how to tell her

the truth: a lab accident


led to the invention of the first blue

pigment in two centuries,


and because this is America

you can buy a tube the size of your pinkie


for the price of a month’s groceries.

What I’m getting at is that I’m tired


of trying to make my student think

I am smart. She has been made to pay


every time I check the boxes

on the rubric designed to assess


how well she can alchemize the clouds

of her convictions into words,


but I can’t even grasp the color blue,

which rarely shows up in nature


and is usually just a trick

of light: the photons bending


through the beads along a jay’s feather

or scattering off scales just so


angled on the blank page

of a butterfly’s wing. How


do we know what we know?

Sorry, but


the sky is fucking blue

says my student. She is not wrong


but she’s also like Florida:

out of nowhere in the summer


she shimmers and suddenly erupts

into rain. I wish I could be that


saturated with certainty, could see

the world as it is


so brilliantly

colored in her brain.

Katharine Rauk is the author of Buried Choirs (Tinderbox Editions) and the chapbook Basil (Black Lawrence Press). She teaches at North Hennepin Community College in Minnesota.

Katharine's Book Recommendations

Deluge, Leila Chatti

The Lamp with Wings, M.A. Vizsolyi

Book of Hours, Kevin Young

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