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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 17: 29 Jan. 2023
Prose Poem: 125 words
By LeeAnn Pickrell



Deep in a canyon. In a canyon within a canyon. An eight-mile journey up Tapeats across Surprise Valley to Deer Creek. Crossing a creek that feeds into the river, the group pauses near a prickly pear dabbled with what looks like spit. “The cochineal bug.” The boatman squashes the bug between his fingers and they turn a deep purple. “The color of royalty,” he says. “The Spanish harvested them to take back to the old world. Why there are so many prickly pears in Spain now.” She doesn’t know whether the story is true. She knows this: He wipes the purple across her nose, smiling. She laughs, really she giggles. She’s forgotten everyone else. Deep within a canyon within a canyon of purple.



Publisher’s Notes:

1. Cochineal hemolymph (the insect equivalent of blood) contains carminic acid, which can be mixed with salts to form carmine, a highly prized, bright red dye. The addition (or presence) of iron oxide will immediately turn the dye to purple. Details are available in the Seattle-based Botanical Colors how-to guide for fiber artists to create their own cochineal dyes.

2. Related reading: “Scientists Are Making Cochineal, a Red Dye From Bugs, in the Lab” by Brittney J. Miller in Smithsonian Magazine (29 March 2022); link retrieved on 8 January 2023:

LeeAnn Pickrell
Issue 17 (29 January 2023)

is a poet, freelance editor, and managing editor of Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche. She has a book forthcoming from Unsolicited Press. Her work has appeared in a variety of online and print journals, including Atlanta Review, KYSO Flash, MacQueen’s Quinterly, The Marin Poetry Review, and Eclectica where she was a Spotlight Poet; and in the anthologies Coffee Poems: Reflections on Life with Coffee (World Enough Writers, 2019) and A Trembling of Finches (KYSO Flash, 2018). She lives in Richmond, California, with her partner, Josh, and two fabulous cats named Pookie and Chompie.

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