Sept 14, 2022
Benjamin Moore on diagnosis
There’s a man reading Bible verses through a megaphone outside Harvard station. Fingers stained Nicotine, teeth Yolk, skin Provence Creme. He makes me think of Uncle David who was all Citron and Sunburst, eyes a gentle Lemon Ice, especially when he got behind the wheel, High Life sliding out his pores like a Guiding Star.
I can tell you how long this junket prophet has left even twenty yards away, and I wonder if he’d kiss my feet and call me god. Or if he’d spit on me. I stop anyway. But that’s only because of Uncle David, because I know the shades and slides toward Yellow Flash and Finch.
Because I love.
It started out quietly: first a Pale Straw, not drawn but delicate and lovely like the women Victorians wrote about who went to the sea for health and air, the type who would eventually escape from Gilman’s wallpaper. That was yellow too.
Butter is next, Earth Balance if you know the kind. He’d melt it in a pan, deep and wide, and we’d watch Garlic crackle and snap, and all I could think about was breaking bones. It was slow, and then all at once, the eyes and skin shifting from Gypsum and Aurelian to Jasper, and even though I second guessed myself those first few weeks when the stomach pains started and the cough, the terrible cough, thinking, am I seeing it because I’m looking or is it real, and then suddenly his skin is mottled, is yellow yes, yellow. Something is wrong and we need Ivory and Eggshell, not Mustard, but Mustard is too late.
When he was gone, I started stopping people in the street and saving their lives, and I wondered if they went home and stared at themselves in the mirror, unsure if the color they saw was one they wanted to see or one they were just putting off.
So I lean toward the man to whisper that I can save him, but he calls me sinner, the whites of his eyes jaundiced shot through with scarlet, and I say three months, that’s all you have.
That’s all we ever had.
Salena Casha's work has appeared in over 50 publications in the last decade. Her most recent work can be found on Pithead Chapel, Scrawl Place, CLOVES, and trampset. She survives New England winters on good beer and black coffee. Follow her on twitter @salaylay_c