POETRY October 7, 2022

Implications of Colors

2022 Booth Beyond the Margins Prize Runner-up

Father once said, a drop of blue
makes a white more white
because it offsets the yellow.
He is not scientist or artist,
his vocabulary meager,
finds viscose more trustworthy
than visceral.
It’s subjective, he’d insist,
old-paper yellow is sunlight, soft-boiled;
his well-worn scars the crimson hooks
that reap the sprouts of his spring,
the grapes of his autumn.
He flips faster than the calendar
to deliver the latest collection—
I collect the sawdust
of him, hoping to see silver
in his calcified gray.
Blue is antonym of melancholy
in a factory man’s logic:
when water is clear
our mouths become guilty of need.
He seldom travels, saying the sea
glistens brighter on screen.
He likes my photos so quickly
that it scares me.
My father is a textileman,
the chemicals he mixes
clash into affordable rainbows,
ripen his eyes into red, fingers into purple,
lakes and rivers a gentle burning blue.
One day we will wash ourselves clean
like we’ve never sinned.
One day we will wear the colors
like we own them.

Xueyi Zhou was born and raised in Foshan, a city of manufacturing in Guangdong, China. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Guernica, Waxwing, Passages North, Tahoma Literary Review, and elsewhere, while her poetry is forthcoming in Frontier Poetry and other journals. Two of her flash-fiction pieces were selected for The Best Small Fictions 2022. She is a Fiction Editor at Witness and Prose Reader at Chestnut Review. Find her on Twitter @xueyizhou.