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Rainbow (Sestina)

by Lacey Doddrow about a year ago in performance poetry
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a self in six colors

My mother says I was an easy birth, arriving as a red

faced infant with flailing fists, my first jewelry the orange

hospital bracelet marked with the family name. A yellow

knit cap for my tiny head, pale against the green

hospital sheets in faded photos. Destined not for blue,

I was the first girl in a generation, a princess in pink and purple.

As a child, I loved things soft - blankets, forts, a purple

stuffed dragon named Stormy. I, too, was soft, not seeing red

When my brother ripped Stormy’s legs off, instead in a teary blue

Mood for days. I cried, grief for a tale I had loved to tell, for the orange

flames that lit up my imagination, us flying together over the green

pastures of his storyland, their fields now withered and yellow.

I found solace in books, sturdy shelves full of yellow

pages and pristine new releases. I fell in love with the color purple,

devoured the stories of women who ate fried green

tomatoes (a food I only ever knew to be cold and red.)

I scrawled my child’s signature on the heavy cardstock of an orange

library card, then used it long enough to fade the ink a soft blue.

Books made me a student, too, analysis scribbled down in blue

exam books underneath the flickering fluorescent yellow

light of a classroom. I cherished the star shaped stickers, orange

adhesive bursts, a declaration of “Good Job!” in a teacher’s purple

pen. (I came of age in a generation when the use of red

for corrections was gauche; my favorite teacher used electric green.)

Literary dreams carried me to a college far away. That spring, green

buds and sprouts shocked me. I’d never seen skies so blue

after my first winter spent in greys and whites. Still, I missed the red

cliffs of my home state, mountains on the horizon, the searing yellow

of its summertime sun. At graduation, I wore a satin purple

sash and black robes, my mother’s digital camera flashing orange.

I had learned to be good, now I learned to be happy, peeling an orange

like Wendy Cope. I tried quieting my brain with that beloved green

herb, took up meditation, tended pots full of delicate purple

blossoms. Wanting to be better than I had been, I agreed to blue

pills that made me less frightened and a bit more sweaty. I signed yellow

carbon paper at the doctor’s office, let them take my blood, warm and red.

I am the orange smears of an Arizona sunset, the cyan blue of a chlorinated pool.

I am an inner siren flashing red, the swirling purple-black of eyes peacefully closed.

I am the marbled green of a gold-nibbed pen, the yellow wallpaper of a brave protagonist.

performance poetry

About the author

Lacey Doddrow

hedonist, storyteller, solicited advice giver, desert dweller

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