Which one, I ask you, as I dump
the rainbow crayons on the floor beside the blank page.
My father was a sailor.
What color is the sky, the ocean
at midnight, his back as he walked away?
My mother was a waitress.
Which do I choose to color the smoky bar,
sweaty hands with dollar tips and nicotine stains?
Lipstick, a red no crayon can draw.
What color the fumes of gin and tonic?
Streets, a slick black reeking of tar and vomit.
Which one do I choose to color
over the cracks in a segregated world. Which crayon catches
his onyx sheen or my strawberry-blond frizz in the river heat?
What color to gloss the patent leather shoes
that bound my feet, whittling away at my heel?
Which shade stains my polyester sock?
These crayons in the box can’t match
my world. Their waxy pigments are too flat, too limited.
Because you want to know, I ask.
Which one, to tell the dingy secret of predatory
hands, his hot breath on my mouth,
my great aunt asleep in the other room?
Retired professor, “naturalized” Minnesotan, Becky Boling has published creative nonfiction, dramatic monologues, stories, and poetry (Lost Lake Folk Opera, Willows Wept Review, Persimmon Tree, 3rdWednesday Magazine, Moss Puppy Magazine…) and twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Like weeds in her garden, she ignores fences, flourishes in sun or shade.