Methylene Blue

Devoted to her father, as she is
supportive of her mother, while sisters
believe she is the be all and end all,
now this elder sister comes to enter
her eighteenth year, no expense has been spared.
Delighted to be presented with a
large gift box, she opens it eagerly,
and let’s out a gasp at the garment’s hue.
She holds the vibrant dress up to the light,
such velvety smoothness in her soft hands,
the stunning colour is methylene blue.

Her curl falling hair, almost in ringlets,
shines pale gold against the dresses boldness,
excited cheeks becoming flushed rose buds,
sparkling brightly – her eyes almost violet,
parents think her a cherub, while sisters
proclaim that she’s surely a true princess,
for she’s a picture in methylene blue.

Preserving this day, this moment, this life,
a painter is invited to capture
her likeness, so she sits for her portrait.
He’s a young, handsome man needing a muse –
she becomes aware of his attraction,
her cheeks glowing warmly, as lips swell rouge.
He’s captivated by this lady’s blush
that so contrasts with the methylene blue.

So many sittings that she falls in love,
only to fall, unwittingly, further,
finds herself to be expecting a child.
Family, appalled, end their relations,
sending her far away to an old Aunt,
a place to see out ‘her journey to Rome’.
It will be some time before she can wear
her precious garment in methylene blue.

She never changed, only appearances,
the infant is seized, “she can’t be trusted”.
They claim that it must be infirmity:
“the poor woman’s mind is not the right state”.
She thinks she’s returning home to family,
but they’re taking her to an asylum.
Lover, child, and family gone from her,
she clings to her most dearest possession
that velvety robe in methylene blue.

In return for her patient compliance,
they permit her to keep her comfort dress.
She wears it around the stark, solemn ward:
a vain attempt to pretend she’s still gay.
Providing the very latest treatments,
they feed her a new anti-psychotic:
goes by the name of chlorpromazine,
derived from the compound of methylene blue.

What initiated her fast downfall,
has become her forced, prescribed medicine.
Her hair falls lank, no sign of those ringlets,
her movements are slow and monotonous,
no zest or colour in her once red cheeks,
and as the week’s pass and the drug takes hold,
her pallor worsens becoming gray-blue.
Her life consigned between asylum walls,
life to be forever methylene blue.


I’d been meaning to write this for sometime, and yesterday’s dverse irony prompt has encouraged me. Methylene blue did provide the compound for the first anti-psychotic medication, chlopromazine, and a potential side-effect is to turn a grayish blue colour. Note that the euphemism “journey to Rome” was taken from Katherine Mansfield’s short story “At Lehmann’s”

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29 thoughts on “Methylene Blue

  1. geeez….bleak…what a story…scary that it can happen and did happen to many, put away not to shame their family…its eerie she still wears the dress…really wonderfully done….check your spelling, i think you have check where it should be cheek?

  2. You did your homework very well to link the practicalities together and produce this epic poem Rowan. It reeks of tradition, irony and wasted lives. Very different – I compliment you on another excellent piece.

  3. A beautifully told but sad ending story ~ You did a fine job of giving meaning & depth to the methylene blue ~

    Your reading is full of passion and emotion ~ Thank for sharing this ~

  4. You did an excellent telling of a very real tragic story that happened to many young women who “fell from grace”. What a waste. It reminded me of colloidal silver which can also turn the skin permanently blue. Many believe that this supplement has healing properties for all kinds of maladies.

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