Canary, Plum

for Vanessa

She runs her finger
across tubes of paint, tosses them
on the kitchen table where a clatter
of color spreads out. Midnight blue
overlaps umber, something new

and nameless, like the look
on her mother’s face
the night the police shot her uncle.
Mauve and periwinkle, named
by someone long before she was born,
when she was just a dab in the swirl.

Yellow bleeds red seeps orange.
Words keep changing, too. Sometimes
it’s victim, other times, survivor.
Words gather themselves
in strands, like the crystal beads
her mother wears to capture the light.
Every night she comes home
from the hospital saying soon, soon.

Jennifer Markell

Accident of Birth
July Night, More Rain