592: Lavender

592: Lavender

592: Lavender


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

I have often thought that moods have colors. The green of calm and creativity, the red of anger and of passion. When I get sad, I say I have the blues. I say I am blue around my edges. And it makes sense to me. It makes more sense than saying “depression” or “sadness”…just a little blue, just some blues today, that’s all. Sometimes it’s my way of saying that I know it’s nothing to get worked up over, nothing anyone should worry about.

I had a friend who went on a date with a man who said he was suffering from general malaise. So we said it for years, general malaise. I’m sure I’m remembering this wrong, but I feel like they had gone sailing and had this beautiful day and still he was sad, distant. General malaise is no good on a first date.

What was it that Holly Golightly said in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the “mean reds”? She says, “Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of…”

In my friend group, we call that “The Fear”. Capital T. Capital F. When nothing feels right or easy, nothing fits, and you feel a guilt even though you can’t pinpoint it?

There are so many different ways to describe our many moods and still, we could come up with so many more, because there are so many moods. Right now, for example, I’m feeling a little aquamarine, glassy, brittle, not totally here, not totally there. We could go on like this forever.

In today’s moody poem, we see a description of what I might call “the blues” and meander with the speaker to explore where “the blues” might take us.

by Joanna Fuhrman

“Being in a funk” is what the cool people call it.

It’s the purple that surrounds the scene at the lake.
Not sad enough to actually drown.

You say, “I’m in a funk,” and I think you think
you’re too pretty, too well groomed,
too stylishly disheveled, to actually sulk.

Have you ever tried drinking a milkshake
with a girlfriend in a funk?

She just stares at the straw as if sucking on it
would allow the whole world into her mouth.

When a teenager wears baggy sweatpants
all February, her math teacher may ask her
if she’s in a funk.

(She’s actually just pissed off.)

Frogs don’t get into funks, but toads do.

In the Bible, Abraham thought Sarah was in a funk,
but she was actually shaking with grief.

When her baby arrived, her 100-year-old flesh
quivered like a sliced papaya.

There is nothing funky
about being in a funk.

The Polish biochemist Casimir Funk
invented vitamins.

The golfer Fred Funk wore a pink skirt
to settle a bet with Annika Sörenstam.

Doing cartwheels or changing the bed sheets
are suggested cures for getting out of a funk.

To be in a funk is to want to cry,
but to be unable to access tears. 

To be in a funk is to be unable to hear
the music in the subway’s rattle.

If Virginia Woolf had been in a funk,
she would have filled her pockets
with dead lilacs instead of rocks.

"Lavender" by Joanna Fuhrman, from TO A NEW ERA by Joanna Fuhrman, copyright © 2021. Used by permission of Hanging Loose Press.