Looking for the source of madder by Maria Isakova Bennett

The promise of new paintings drew me
through the door, once there, the warmth
of his turf fire, its sweet soil odour, held me --
his walls were crowded with her twisted torso.

He passed me a note, a recipe for pigment A,
the suggestion of food made me hungry,
and we ate into the early hours.

Afterwards we talked of torubia tinctorum,
and of fabrics drenched rose and brown; roots
were soft under our feet in that space --
part room, part warehouse.

He kept muttering alizarin like a code,
and on the walls were letters and numbers
C and H and O, four and eight and twelve.

I escaped while he slept. But every May
I make alizarin from his recipe --
and paint my body red.

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