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 “The Japanese term ai (pronounced “i”) can mean either “love” or “indigo.”— from text for a lecture at The Textile Museum, Washington DC


He’s dreaming again. He dreams that he’s died, and it’s not a dream, not a trick, not a sacrifice meant to protect the only friends he might ever have had. He dreams he’s a shade, a ghost, and for a few days, he stays close, lingers around the transport watching John feather (or de-feather)the nest like a bower bird expecting its mate, waiting for him to come home.

It doesn’t happen. He sleeps.


He knows (how can he not) that beyond a certain age we all carry our elegiac burdens. He’s tried to delete his, but it won’t work, not for this one. It’s unthinkable.

This is blue; this is indigo, only not beautiful, not picked with stars. Not five o’ clock shade on the towers of the downtown, not a bell of low pressure over the city he loves, not trenches under the eyes of the one he loves. It’s dull, dull beyond anything he’s ever meant by dull. (Indigo, precursor indicant; toxic, though not orally; blue dye in vats in the jungle, poison; Tapinauchenius cupreus, the indigo tree spider: how many ways to murder a web?)

I, he thinks, have never contented anybody, only worried them, like chemicals, or crows.

John’s voice at 3 am, “Sherlock, what did you do?

(In Japanese ai iro, the deepest blue.)