By: Katherine Young

When I rewind the tangled film of that year to replay again,
the transcript hitches, a tainted roll of chromatography paper,
taken out from the closet a few too many times;
when I carefully crop it to the segment in question,
and dip the bruised parchment into the inkwell of the past,
where clarity is born from the womb of memories,
a primordial soup of letters that begin to rearrange into words,
on the white canvas above my bed, the jumpy silent film,
slowly warming into the modern age until the picture feels
real enough to touch, so I do and the ceiling folds like origami;

I leave on the wings of a crane, soaring across a spectrum of
his silky purple robes atop his chocolate skin, a soundtrack of
thick-bodied blues, in green meadow behind his grandparents’ house
which did turn yellow from the burning cross — a cautionary tale
ignored, like the sting of fresh squeezed orange juice on
the wound from serrated blades, and finally the racy
red blush that spills from the brain, hot blood
funneled between the ridges of my face,
carving a valley from my nares to upturned lip after his
heated passion combusted with the flash of four bare knuckles
when I told him and he told me I had too much pride,
that it would do me much better to hide because the world
would wear rings when it punched, and he loved me
too much to see that happen to my face, so I left him;

but I heard his whisper when I stepped off the train to
the scene of black and white water fountains, coffee houses,
the world was lacking so much color and so mine began to fade;
the only colors were victimized — red scare, orange trefoils,
yellow peril, military green at every street corner, cold blue in their eyes,
my fellow lavender lads — their colors burning under a mask of makeup
as I was wiping mine off to embrace my white complexion,
so I could walk by the somber sidewalk crowd without a head swivel,
my hat pressed to my chest, locked briefcase in hand,
filled with rolls of tapes I’d never share with them,
my heavy dirty burden carried in plain sight,
safely dry from the rains that ran makeup right off;

When I open my eyes, the pillowcase is wet,
the hum of the projector replaced by sterile beeping,
cards and flowers resting on unfamiliar oak,
there is but an inch of story left in my roll, enough for
only end credits, where his name appears in big neon letters;
sixty years I have waited for this, for the world to see the colors
I have carried with me since the day the grass was scorched;
when you bury me, son, find a glass casket so they can see
that, mummified in the glowing tapes of the life I lost,
I am unabashed.