Oh, beautiful, Sea Green. I’m wearing you today. How nice to see you again.

I’ve loved you since I was five and chose you out of the jumbo Crayola box, tiered, like bleachers, to display all sixty-four crayons. You quickly became my favorite, bar none. I never used you to color trees or grass. You were not garish like luck. You contained a hint of sky around the horizon line where your hue vibrated between solid and liquid.

Your remarkable powers are as forever as the wedding band I never take off. It’s pink gold, a color in the red-orange range of my fire sign, Aires, and opposite you on the color wheel. Coral, salmon, and tangerine are lovely colors, but none bring me to life, like you do.

You are not the green layer in the irresistible Frango Mints from Marshall Fields. You are not teal, like the stove pipe velvet pants Mom wore for Christmas the year Nancy was born with the coordinating silk blouse with a pattern of arty circles. You are not aqua or turquoise or aquamarine, or any color that errs on the side of blue or green. You are not cyan, with its harsher tone, a quarter of CMYK, the printer matching system of color that was the mainstay of my profession.

You are the ovoid stone in the ring I wear today. You are between blue, green, and pale gray. To me, you are divine. You fit on the middle finger of my left hand like a glove. You bring out the color in my veins. The red of my life blood bounces back to my eye as you because of how light penetrates the skin and bends wavelengths of color.

Some might call you opaque. Not true. If you are froth on an ocean wave, it is in a clear sea. You are pale without pallor. You quiver so delicately, you are youth and innocence. The sense of tranquility you bring me balances emotions and promotes a sense of calm.

You are not to be mistaken for pangs of jealousy, “green with envy.” You conjure wistful memories. I was forty-five, admiring you from a sandy shore where we tented for the night. You were the color of the holiest of rivers, Mother Ganga, near Gangotri. You were the headwaters, the source that swallowed me for a few hair raising moments when our raft hit a churning eddy. The raftsman was young and inexperienced.

The hard thud was absolutely unexpected. The jolt catapulted me out of my seat and under the boat. A mere pilgrim, tossed asunder and sinking. As my body regained its buoyancy and started to naturally ascend, my helmet hit something with enough force to sink me. I hit bottom and the euphoric sense of floating regained, I approached the surface a second time. Bam. A flat surface overhead plunged me down, away from air.

Survival instincts kicked in. The delayed panic made me scramble out from under the shadow into the light. I surfaced next to the raft still stuck in the eddy. My voice was two octaves higher than normal when I gasped for air and called for help. In the commotion and spinning, no one had wondered what was hitting the bottom of the boat or where I was. Bobby was dripping wet from his holy dip.

We rafted to Rishikesh and came ashore under a suspension bridge by a trinket shop and there you were, green Chalcedony, in a ring that matched the water to perfection and reminded me of my favorite crayon. I wore you religiously until my finger was swollen one night years later while we were camping in Yellowstone and I tucked it carefully into a mesh pocket in the tent. Unbeknownst to us, it went flying into the underbrush when we shook out our gear in the morning, and I felt your absence from then on.

Nearly twenty years later, you caught my eye while window shopping in Udaipur. I wasn’t looking for you. You called out to me. And you fit like a glove, the identical stone to the one I lost, but a setting even more beautiful.

You are the color of the vortex in the Ganges so pure. You are the countercurrent that propelled me back to life. You set my palette in the beginning and you will remain the central character in my spectrum until I die.

Now I’m sixty-six. You are a color in the forest, in the mosses and lichen. I have a chartreuse wind breaker that pairs nicely with you, an acid green more intense than an apple. I complement you, as do the lilacs on my table today and the dusty pink in the underbelly of the clouds that reflect in the sensual curve on the edge of my second ring of you. I might be stuck at home, but I do not feel alone when I look at you.

2 thoughts on “The Holy Dip by Karen Davidson Seward

Leave a Reply