A thousand years ago, France
grew cathedrals like barnacles
and women were horses:
work animals. Luxury goods.
And yet—
under the microscope,
a medieval woman’s teeth
limned in blacklight blue,
her mouth glowing
like the abandoned
warehouses of 90s raves.
Ultramarine. A pigment
so precious, few
ever touched it.
What shall we call her?
Bookmaker? Painter? Scribe?
Imagine her grinding stones
worth more than gold
to liquid; imagine her
hunched over a desk
in a Dalheim scriptorium
illuminating a new commission,
the Queen of Heaven’s robes
vibrating virginal blue.
She tasted the Silk Road
on the point of her brush,
breathed in lazurite powder
so often she stained her teeth
for a thousand years,
and yet—
historians wondered first
if we should all just move past
our wonder—
wasn’t it possible, they asked,
that she was just the maid?
Wasn’t it easier if she just
inhaled a bit of blue dust once
while she was cleaning up?