Lurid can symbolize the translucent shade of autumn leaves, its gold, but it can also fade into a dying pale-yellow.
The morning mist enveloped autumn’s shades
And auburn, crimson, scarlet –
They all paled
And blended into lurid,
The yellow pale.
Beneath the nascent sky.
If lurid mushrooms come your way,
They’re good and healthy and they should stay
For supper, if they may.
But bright ones, picked in Autumn…
Or you own skin will turn lurid…
I let them fly,
Between the Autumn’s wings,
Like lurid ghosts amid the yellow leaves.
Some words still carry an emotional burden, like lurid.
Used in 17th century to describe stages of bruising and corpses, lurid sipped into nature: lifeless, pale, yellowish leaves of Autumn… Then it floated to ghastly light… And, finally, made the shocking news:
The ghastly, lurid light that covered the Afghan earth when Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas in March 2001.
I wrote about it in my book Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for.
Lurid originates in Latin luridus, yet it was only after the 16th century that it was extensively used in English.
On our travels to Transylvania’s Corvin Castle my feet followed timeworn steps along a spiral staircase. I was looking forward to a view of the moat and the evergreen forests that shield this medieval fortress.
There was no banister to rest my hand on as I climbed the stairs. There were only the ancient stone blocks building to a tower as wide as my elbows and as cold to touch as the draft hissing from above. Before I knew it I was past the point of no return. The ending not in sight yet and the departure point long lost, I felt suspended in time and space. Anything could have happened and no one would have known.
Only the cold draft whispered around me, and only my heavy breathing answered it. I blamed it, together with the dizzy spell that had blurred my vision, on the narrow steps curling in high increments.
Crawling on my hands and knees I emerged into a stony cell bathed in lurid light.
Not even the midday sun streaming through a slit in the stone could shake the uneasy feeling that followed me up there. A draft of wind whispered past my ears and hurried down the stairs and I felt like a prisoner swap had just taken place, with me the one to draw the short straw.
There are more short stories inspired by Transylvania’s history in my latest book:
I hope you enjoyed Lurid, Autumn’s Gold . You might also like to read: