by Charles Troob

When you take a tour around Toulouse
and the smaller cities in the sunny region
on the French side of the Pyrenees
the guides will tell you about woad, a plant
like spinach, used for a blue dye, fixed
(made colorfast) with urine, the source of
enormous wealth in the twelfth century
and later, until displaced by indigo.

“How interesting!” you think, for five minutes.
And then they tell you about the Cathars,
wiped out in the Albigensian crusade
of the thirteenth century, a horrible tale,
and one with greater bearing on today
than woad–though, to be honest, not by much.

 Charles Troob:  An eager member since 2010 of two wonderful study groups–Lessons in The Art of Writing, and Reading and Writing Poetry–Charles is grateful for the opportunity to share some of the results.