“speckled / like a sky” : May Swenson’s “Blue”

A modern entry into the venerable poetic tradition of cataloging the beloved’s physical beauties (see: Petrarch, Shakespeare, Donne), May Swenson’s “Blue” is a poem that just begs to be read aloud. It’s rhythmic, sexy, and filled with bilabial consonants (‘p’ and ‘b’ in particular) that press the reader’s lips together into a kiss.


The speaker addresses her lover in lines replete with sensory imagery — taste and touch especially — made even more immediate by the present-tense action of the poem. And you won’t believe what she can do with three colors — white, rose (also the lover’s name), and blue.

Here are my favorite lines:

You’re white in
patches, only mostly Rose,
buckskin and salty, speckled
like a sky. I love your spots,
your white neck, Rose, your hair’s
wild straw splash, silk spools
for your ears.

You can read the entire poem here.


5 thoughts on ““speckled / like a sky” : May Swenson’s “Blue”

  1. May Swenson is always all over the library at my university because she’s from Logan, Utah! They have a lot of her “stuff” in the archives. It is a pretty big deal. Anyway, it was nice to see you honoring her and for me to know more about her than just seeing her name in my library all of the time.

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