Mustard Originelle – Clarissa C. Adkins

I sit in an amalgam of bucket wenge armchairs,

the paprika nostalgia of 1973 family rooms—

pungents of acidic honey who appear


as lava glow along wood panel.

Reclining back further, I think no toes

ever researched, fully, the ochre


of shag carpet or teak in its circles and modern

lines—the Artiforts and Vissers—uncluttered

living under the cones of aureate lamps,


mid-century glossed to retro and integrated—

disguised as human cubism—

(a child was often left alone in 1976).


I see cadmium’s evolution into Harvest Gold,

to ranch split-level kitchen counter tops,

to burnt yellow, astringent embedded


body knowledge—I can almost dip my hands

in the canary and coat the tandem chairs—

pulp the Sears catalogues into chemical daisy,


which for us, the children who sat on these chairs,

means our knit-tweed pants never stuck

to fiberglass, but shared wool with


this latter-day Dijon that sprouted in its jars,

which once contained hexavalent chromium,

an orange-tinged whisky named National


School Bus Color, spooned thick onto buses,

year 1939—that sulfur spark for pencil-yellow pencils,

that era driven septic across vinegar seams.


Clarissa C. AdkinsClarissa is a co-author of “Chair Yoga for You, a Practical Guide.” Most recently, her work appeared in Writers Against Prejudice, Epic Protest Poems, and Poems2Go. She’s an MFA candidate in poetry with Lesley University’s low-residency program and just became an intern reader for Sugar House Review.

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