—the only one left
from a set of colored pencils.
Red––I think candy.
How my mother sent me to the store
for red licorice and red hots.
On my bike, heart pounding, I’d pedal fast,
outpacing the snarling dog at my ankles.
Red––I think blood.
Band-Aids, unfamiliar stains, and shame.
Kool-Aid, popsicles, bikes,
checked curtains and chair-seats, pillows
thrown against the couch. My mother
had more red, saw more red than any other color,
her ashen life yanked along by reds.
One pencil left––why red?
What karma keeps me bound
to my mother’s favorite color?
Blue is mine. For the greater part of self
I have a cool blue cave.
Curious then, this stub of red
I can’t throw out.
Jacquelyn Shah (M.A., M.F.A., Ph.D. – English literature/creative writing) has received grants from Houston Arts Alliance; her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. A poetry chapbook,small fry, and full-length poetry book, What to Do with Red were published (2017, 2018). She’s a recent winner of Literal Latté’s Food Verse contest.