#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.”
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?
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
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