Red is the color on my tiny tapered fingertips, on my small soft lips. It’s the color of my wild mane, of my ferocious beating heart. It is the color of the sheets I poured myself on in a momentary lapse of judgment. It is the color of the blood that was spilt.
From the pale cherry on my tongue to the faded ink of your old tattoo and the crimson sunrise painted behind it, we were red. It stained the crystalline glass of Chianti that never got finished. Its wax flowed from the candle we forgot to blow out. And it danced in the flames of passion we kindled like a wildfire.
As I stared at your tanned sienna skin, I remembered the scorched earth policy that your ancestors devastated my ancestors with. There, against the drifts of bloodshot snow, danced grand ruby sleeves of violence, smoke rising to the starry sky.
Orange was the color of my mother’s thick curly hair, which I stared at constantly. I longed to bury myself in it and never return. Images of her private and quiet pain flashed before my eyes as we watched the sunset on the jagged rocks at Plum Island. Our words were terse and insignificant, but I saw a deep sadness in the corners of her thin compressed mouth. It’s easy to take for granted the brilliance of the Atlantic coast when the image is as familiar as my unimportant palms. Tangerine reflections lingered on the waves that undulated with the ease of a Sunday morning, bouncing off my shimmering blue eyes.
Yellow is the feeling I hold in the back of throat, in the pit of my stomach. My teeth are the coffee stained dyke holding it back, keeping me from confessing years and years of staring into the sea waiting for your return. It pins down my rangy need to scream for you, to cruse and throw fire at you for all the pain you’ve brought into our lives. It is the color I will see behind your turquoise eyes when your liver inevitably fails, bloated by years of antagonism burst open by hostility.
Green was the color of the grass stains on my knees and elbows when I tumbled down the emerald hills in my hometown. It was the color of the money we burned through like an old match. Greener and greener were the leaves we hid behind, smoking weed through a kaleidoscope pipe.
Green was the color of your boyish eyes, charming in their ignorance.
Green was how you felt when I spurned your advances for another, leaving you alone amongst leaves of poison ivy. I tried to say sorry, but you had moved far away to brilliant jade hills my bare white skin had never touched.
Blue was my mind and my heart, not least of all my deep-set eyes. I rimmed them over and over in kohl until I felt hidden, like some clever raccoon. I slept and screamed for years, frozen as glacier creeping forward only inches a year. Late at night under the guise of the navy sky was when I felt the bluest, fantasizing about arctic wastelands I could wander until collapse. My shadow was blue, too, when it covered me like a security blanket and refused to let go.
Within the cavernous folds of lethargy, I had learned that our blood is only red when it makes contact with the air. All your blood is blue. All my blood is blue. It made sense that we suffocate.
Indigo were those crafty little pills I cut up with the eagerness of a kid on Christmas. I was still a child, stuck in a stranger’s body of foreign curves. The deep cobalt stained the inside of my nose and the grey ripples of my cognitive process. Even though my clamoring skeleton shook constantly, I seldom noticed tears welling up in the corners of my permanent stare. This triumph spurned me to embark on a yearlong high.
As I lied on my bedroom floor naked as the windows, I felt a high creep over me like a thousand hungry spiders.
In my soft hand I held a violet, torn from its home on a stranger’s lawn in downtown Newburyport. I myself am away from home, and look at my past self like a sad stranger I once knew.
This violent was taken from its past life as an ornament, but I see deep in its purple wrinkles a will to live. A swell of selfishness blossomed in my chest as I held it tightly in my small fist.
I stared at my tattered grey boots as I followed the rambling brick road. Like an old t-shirt laundered one too many times, the dreams of my past seemed faded and worn. Gazing into the sky I spied a hint of rainclouds advancing closer. My eyes met with the deep black irises of a boy from the boardwalk, with his sienna skin and dark eyes.
I dropped the violet at his feet as the first rain drops tickled my neck like a stranger breathing down my collar. He shook his head of black and grey hair and picked it up. A laugh came from behind his crooked teeth.
Maybe we’ll see a rainbow, he said. We smiled in sync.