Haylee Bohm/TMD.
The world comes to you in paint.
In the night, in the basement of a house 
that smells nothing of the sea —
nothing of the flowers you knew
or flowers you’ll ever truly know again.

Oil paints, gently used, cried over.
Or would have cried over, maybe, if you
were still that little girl.
Pencil in hand, feel the roughness
Of the canvas as you sketch and sketch again.

Now the paints come out.

Cerulean blue, do you remember
when your mother took you to the sea?
With your kuyas and your ates and your titos and titas
and your lola who would sit at the side eating a banana.
I’ll live to a hundred, she says, as you throw bread, see the fish scramble.
It’s the bananas, they’ll get me there.

Cadmium red, can you see the apples?
Expensive, only at Pasko, the day for Jesus.
The scent fills the home, but do you see the regret, too?
Colored periwinkle and gray, it follows the new clothing you get.
New clothes only at Christmas. You have no shoes.
You never see your mother shed a tear.
Money was like apples, do you understand?

Cadmium green, you feel it now, don’t you?
Running under the leaves of the palm trees,
all the young children climbing, hitting the trunks,
Coconuts falling one by one, elders yelling for them to stop.
In the here and now the only things you see falling
from the trees are little helicopter seeds, 
spinning and spinning.
Even now you still feel the sand on your feet.

Light peeks through

the small window. Your children
cry from upstairs.

Before you sits an unfinished painting.

You’ll finish it later.
[You never do.]

MiC Columnist Dani Shave can be reached at dshave@umich.edu.