Golden Pesto–On the Occasion that You Get an Urge to Lick Your Walls

Dear Lily June,

Though I’ve still been working on whittling down the collection of boxes and boxes of paper in my closet, in six months I haven’t shared any more of the hoarding treasures I’ve unearthed. The poem prompt I found (below) seems a good return to this.

Today, with Fall just around the corner, I find myself falling in love anew with color. The blues of the sky just feel a little bluer when juxtaposed against the reddening of the leaves. Or maybe I just open my eyes a little wider this time of year to see what was always there to begin with.


We sat for the first time in awhile last night with your stacking rings, and I tried to reacquaint you with (5/7 of) Roy G. Biv. I failed spectacularly, as you were far more interested in pushing around your popper, screaming with delight as I counted out each explosion as it happened. C’est la colorful vie.

I don’t know at what age you’re supposed to have learned your colors.

I know that, at sixteen months, your palette is sophisticated enough to separate Colby (to you, good) from Cheddar (to you, the Devil’s dairy). I know that you can, based on your most recent Halloween books we’ve been reading (way early, I know) distinguish (by pointing) a pumpkin from a spider. But like so many other things in your life, how you see color is a mystery to me, the heart of which I can’t wait to discover.

What, Lily, will your favorite color be? Will you take after your mother and adore rich purples and lavenders? Or will you instead be more like your father and dream of a more tangerine color?

It is such a simple little fact about a person, and yet, it seems so telling. Who you will be, Lily, seems wrapped up in how you will see colors.


Sometimes, color can be the sole trigger for a memory. The apartment your dad and I first rented together, Lily June, had walls painted a color with a name and shade so distinctive, I’ll never forget it: Golden Pesto.

It was a bit like the color of the featured image for this letter, only far, far brighter–something like a field of spring grass after a rain as backlit in the fire of an Alabama sun setting. Like I said, distinctive.

And while the poem prompt below is really more meant to give children and young adults their first taste of poetry (I think it was given to me in some middle school creative writing class), when I saw it (again), I immediately thought of that color, even years later.

Here’s the prompt, as scanned from its original paper! (Fun Fact: Before cell phone screens, people read things off of the processed skins of dead trees, Lily.)


The author’s mistakes above (learn your its from your it’s, Lily!) drive me batty, but the poem prompt is a simple enough way to focus in on the beauty of color, Lily. And based on the poem I wrote below, it did at least give me an opportunity to remember…

(Note on the Following: Your dad and I actually HATE basil, and you can substitute cilantro for pesto anyway, so that’s what I went with for the poem below, despite its technical inaccuracy. It’s true, though, Lily: Because we cooked so many of our own meals in the kitchen of that place, my memories there will forever be linked with the scent of cilantro. Go to a grocery store and start sniffing around the produce. You’ll see smell what I mean).


The color of our first apartment,

golden pesto, made the walls a culinary alchemy,

blended all my memories with the scent of cilantro

so that falling in love felt crisp and clean and messy

simultaneously, like our conversations were a single angel hair

we slurped from opposite ends to bring our hovering, hopeless,

hungry lips together.


Picture Credits:

4 thoughts on “Golden Pesto–On the Occasion that You Get an Urge to Lick Your Walls

  1. The Shameful Narcissist says:

    The pictures of those toys brought back so many memories. I garnered more from this post than just that, but I was hit with such a wave of nostalgia with those images. The timelessness of them warms my heart. I played when them at Lily’s age and they’re still around. In this tumultuous world, that little point of stability fills me with satisfaction.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Allie P. says:

    I read a study that speculates that humanity as a species did not evolve to see the color blue until very recently which is why old paintings show the ocean as green and sky gray. I don’t know if that is true, but it was fascinating to me.

    Lovely poem too.


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