Shades of Blue

December 1946. Mexico City
“The end knows its arrival but refuses to knock, so my hands remain warm in my mother’s riding gloves, while my home remains cold from the draft of an open door, proudly inviting death to visit a sanctuary of clean walls and dirty floors. I have been but a humble maid whose service has meant nothing but a life’s unpaid wages to man or God I can’t know, for the flesh has no vision to distinguish the helmsman from the helm. Nothing of me finds completion. The ink never dries because my tears create new and uncharted territories over memories, and reminds me I am always a child remanded to completing chores before given freedom to blow out the candle that unwraps my only joyful breath to grant a final wish.”

this is another excerpt from my mama’s journal. many of her thoughts pain me to read, and what i noticed about her darker entries, is that she always paired them with artwork on the adjacent pages. she often wrote about the artwork she saw at the palacio de las bellas artes as a teen. following this journal, she included a photo of a diego rivera mural destroyed in 1933 but later recreated. today it’s called man, controller of the universe, or man in the time machine.

in today’s world, mama would surely be diagnosed with depression or some other incurable life affliction. she’d probably also receive a prescription for something that turns royal blue sadness into something lighter, like powder blue melancholia or dove blue dolor. i think anything she could still conceive composing into the sky and creating snow with might have placed a warm scarf over the chill on her outlook on life.  

floral nativity tends to be a bit of a misnomer, because sometimes the birth of a flower happens in marooned ships and with abandoned shipowners. it took me three months to gather everything needed to plant the first black orchids in honor of my mother’s despairing helm. i had to wait on the weather of the helmsman, which didn’t arrive until i’d discovered how to celebrate the topography of all fruits and flowers.

i campaign against the same demons my mama fought. their voices coo to me in my sleep while birds of rest keep me awake, and pinned to the ground burying seeds. burying, burying, burying. sometimes it isn’t about sowing and reaping, but weeping. burying and weeping.  after all, even the sky appears blue.

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