Primary Colors

Published at Metazen

He is painting my nipple.

Dips his brush in white, encircling my areola with his dots. Next he paints a snake. It wriggles in a circle; forked tongue kisses forked tongue, and two snakes are making love. Rainbow serpent reaches into her womb and spatters white dots onto my left breast. The dots hatch. Baby snakes slither, vestal white, towards the altar.

He is painting my abdomen.

Dips his brush in black, weaving lines around my umbilicus. Solid, wavy lines. Plaited cord rises and falls with my breath. Next he paints stick figures. Mimi spirits balanced on a tightrope. The paint has spattered, starburst under my ribcage. Tanned sky. A smudge becomes the moon; the stars, a fisherman who points a spear down to the sea.

He is painting my mound.

“I dip my brush in green, daubing my face with the color of her eyes.”_______________

Dips his brush in red, filling circles with his dots. Fish spurt out from roe, long tails wriggling, dragged by the undertow towards the red watershed. Crocodiles wait on the bank, eyes red in the dark. Lurking in the mangroves, they gaze into steamy swamps.

He is painting my legs.

Dips his brush in yellow, tearing bunches of grapes from the vine. Peeled grapes have a jellied translucence. The vine winds its way down and around, squeezing and licking my knee with its shoots. A frog jumps down onto my foot, warty knees apart, legs splayed open. It hops onto the floor beside the bed. Amphibian emerging onto land.

He is painting my back.

Dips his brush in blue, lavishing waves along my spine. Sea reaches sky at the horizon of my shoulders. He paints a feather on nape of neck. The bluebird has already flown away.

I am staring into the mirror.

I dip my brush in green, daubing my face with the color of her eyes.


Her eyes line the wall and I cannot help but stare. Her eggs hatched years ago. Mine wait, ripe and swollen, as she rocks him to and fro, lulling him to sleep.

Conjugate sleep.
I sleep.
He sleeps.
She sleeps.
They sleep.
We all sleep.

Alone, I lie awake and stare at the wall. Eyes that will not close. They stare back. Green.

She rocks him to and fro. Cradles him in her arms.

Alone, I sit in my bed, clasping my knees with my arms. I rock to and fro. I am wearing war-paint on my face. Frenzied strokes. I splatter colors on the wall, covering her eyes.

Sometimes he rocks me to and fro, my legs splayed frog-like on the bed. Her eyes stare from the wall but will not see.

“He reminds me of my son,” she smiles, and pours the tea.

I stir in sugar.

“I’m so glad that you and I are friends,” she says. “You remind me of my daughter.”

I paint the wall. Her eyes still stare. I paint the mirror, green eyes turn black.

He kisses my nipple.

“This is the stuff babies are made of,” he says. “I want to take you to the altar one day,” he whispers.

“Then sacrifice her,” I want to say. Instead, I put on my blouse and leave his house.


I paint the mirror. I kiss it with red lips and say goodbye. Mirror, mirror, I am staring into the mirror on the wall.

I dip my brush in red, painting my hand with the color of blood.