I recall I was young. I spent winter days on the square carpet piece that took up most of my bedroom. There was not much to do. Mum took pity. Inside an old shortbread tin she placed six special colour crayons. From the bottom kitchen drawer she gathered the neatly folded butcher paper, rolled it and tied it with a piece of string.
‘Just for you’, she said.
Once a week, I gently unfolded one sheet of paper and began. My favourite colour was red. On one sheet, the sky, trees, flowers and house were all red. The people standing to the right of the house were red. I struggled to draw any animals. I remember this vividly. My father did not like them. But there was always a curved bird. He did not seem to care, when I rushed to show him. I think he liked birds. I don’t know for sure.
I grew. The colour changed.
My favourite red started out bright scarlet then as my lines and curves took shape it went colourless. Choosing another colour had never seemed an option. On the day red changed I tied it to the end of a piece of string that hung from my waist. My rosary. Daily I stroked red. Nightly I placed red between my thumb and index finger and scrawled it across paper.
Willing with a childlike innocence her matt and sheen red return.
I took to vespers, wearing a city habit tied neatly with my red crayon on a string.
Folding my fingers
bowing my head submissively
chanting prayers for Red
unfolding good works
Mum took pity. Into my hand she placed the shortbread tin again. ‘Look’ there is colour.