If you wish to make the color blue
take a piece of sky and put it in a pot
large enough to place on the flame of the horizon
…And I left the recipe
for whoever, one day, would imitate the sky.
— Nuno Júdice
Translated from the Portuguese by Richard Zenith

River kites, with sun-smeared wings
climb towers of spiral stairs
with currents paying out their cords
from the choppy waves at the harbor.
White wings dazzle, helicoid
against a cerulean mystery —
witnesses to a mythopoeic voyage
unlocking the color schemes of nature.

After the rain,
the sun strings
its bow of seven colors,
touching the right cord
with its arc of white light.

Sailing to London in the Twenties,
Asia’s first Nobelist in science
and Indian physicist non pareil
watches the deep luster of the Mediterranean
with a fascination born of genius.
He asks himself a question
simple enough,
innocuous enough.
Why is the sea blue?
“Is it because the sky is reflected in the waters? Then why does the color remain even when billows roll on the surface?”
As Raman realizes, the deep blue is born as sunlight is scattered by water molecules.

A civil servant’s passage to England
ushers in a sea change
in spectroscopic theory,
unraveling the vibgyor ribbon
of the solar monochrome.

C.V.’s experiments mine the coruscant secrets
hidden inside ice and quartz crystals,
while diamonds, pearls and opals
iridesce in the stellar radiance
of his universe’s inner eye…

– – –

Raman effect: This is a radiation effect concerning the inelastic scattering of light. When a beam of monochromatic light is scattered by a transparent material medium, such as clear water, the diffracted light contains frequency of very low intensity not present in the incident radiation. This is manifested in the appearance of additional lines in the spectrum of monochromatic light, showing that though the incident light is monochromatic, the scattered light is not.