before we learned
flesh should not be
turquoise, brick, or lemon;
before thick black lines
divined paths for us to follow;
before Prussian Blue had to duck
and cover beneath a child's desk
sky ringing with sirens,
before Indian Red faded like Indian summer,
and the world became ultra,
electric, neon, atomic---
it was the colour
of cinnamon toast and foxes,
dirty pennies and rusty bottlecaps
thrust in treasure-chest pockets,
leaves crumpled under new shoes,
the brown bottle-brush tails of squirrels.
with it we buried gold on pirate shores,
moulded mountains on Mars,
rode spiny-backed dinosaurs through Mesozoic swamps
until the bells and shouts of recess
called us away.
Note: "Burnt Sienna," "Prussian Blue," "Indian Red" are all names of Crayola Crayons. For a history of the naming of colours, see http://www.crayola.com/colorcensus/history/chronology.cfm.
"Burnt Sienna" was one of the colours being considered for retirement in 2003.