My second grade teacher liked to ask us,
“How do you feel today, on a scale of one to ten?”
Ten always meant I’m super, thank you
and one was always not today, Mrs. MacAuley, not today.
But I never liked numbers, they would always
twist and rebel against my mind so I chose
to speak in colors instead.
January third - I am the color
of mint chocolate chip ice cream
but I’ve eaten all the chocolate chips.
I am calm.
February seventh - I am a bruise of
blues and violets today. I think it would
be best if I sat by the window.
These are unhappy colors.
April eleventh - I am turquoise, I am magenta,
I am every color in the rainbow.
April thirtieth - I am gray, I am silent.
May first - I am orange, the color of melting
creamsicles on a beach in July.
June twelfth - I am as yellow as the school bus
that will bring me home to summer. I am free.
Twelve years later, I still use colors.
The winter makes me feel cobalt blue, the ocean
turns me a seafoam green. Violets and purples
leave me uneasy and scarlet is a fever of fury.
Some nights I drown in shades of navy, denim,
and cornflower but other nights I meditate in forests of
harlequin and shamrock.
you leave me a blinding white followed by a soft yellow:
the color of sunlight after a period of darkness.
We lit our cigarettes off of each other’s. We were never meant to be, no. We had sex, but I could never let her touch me. She couldn’t have extracted my soul from all the places it was hiding. That’s okay. We were what we were, when we needed it.
She was out on my balcony, late one night. I was in the kitchen, when I sensed a change in energy. I walked out onto the balcony to find her sitting with a cigarette in her fingers, trembling with tears streaming down her cheeks.
I sat down in front of her, and said gently, “Come here, sweetheart.” She slid into my lap, and sobbed into my shoulder. I remember the exact feeling of her back beneath my fingertips, as I ran my fingers up and down her spine. My god, I held her, and for the first time in so long, I felt something in my heart that resembled softness. It was a heartbreaking, heartmaking feeling.
She melted my permafrost in that moment. I cared. Suddenly, I could feel tenderness again. That was a frozen ocean melting and surging to meet her. I owe my change in seasons to her. My summer finally returned."