Andrea Jurjević photo: Marie Thomas
Deanna Sirlin, Language, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 14 x 11 inches
Each color is a wave, a language, the totality of them—the ever-
rising and falling bariolage of tongues—is an ocean.
And what’s there but to swim—propel the body through
the reticent waters of teal, the chanting of chartreuse,
the prattle of purple and the professions of saffron,
the vesper of the burning sunset and the midnight moan.
Swim that communion of color and thousandword,
where you end and I begin in an ever-shifting ripple.
Color inscribes itself. It’s like this: we made blue love
on a blue bed to a blue song in a roomful of blue.
And beyond the swaying bluegrass bloomed a blue cloud.
The sea holly spiked and the muscadine swelled into speech.
The Red Sea and the Black Sea folded into themselves, one blue
wave into another. The sea willed the blue, so much blue:
mouthfuls of mussels, heartblue seabirds, the ransom of rain.
Roadside chicory rayed a fiesta of blue petals and the unbent irises
stuck their blue tongues out and harmonized: azul, modrý, goluboy,
γαλάζιο, σκούρο μπλε. Even the limestone turned blue.
And tomorrow, under the sky full of weather, we’ll dive off
the cragged turquoise, bathe in the clear opal.
Andrea Jurjević is the author of two poetry collections: In Another Country, selected by Roberto Tejada for the 2022 Saturnalia Books Prize, and Small Crimes (Anhinga Press, 2017), winner of the 2015 Philip Levine Prize and the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year award. Her chapbook Nightcall (Willow Springs Editions, 2021) was selected for the ACME Poem Company Surrealist Poetry Series. Her book-length translations from Croatian include Mamasafari (Diálogos Press, 2018) and Dead Letter Office (The Word Works, 2020), which was shortlisted for the 2021 National Translation Award in Poetry.
Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Believer, TriQuarterly, The Missouri Review, Crazyhorse and The New Republic, among others. She is the recipient of a Robinson Jeffers Tor Prize, a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and Hambidge Fellowship.
Andrea was born and raised in Rijeka, Croatia, in the former Yugoslavia, before immigrating to the United States. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where she teaches in the English department at Georgia State University.