Back to Issue Thirty-Six

Color Problems




Home from work, I—so tired—I drop
my bag at the doorframe and kick off

two sickled shoes. I turn on no lights.
But I hear the water pounding fast

fists out of hell against the tub—I
must have turned it on. But it is

not good water until it boils.
To prepare—I take the brick of fig

scented soap and drop it over the
balcony into someone’s garden.

To my husband, I write—​Do not for
-get to water the birds. Thank you. –Grace—

beside the nest with two interwoven
bird-skeletons. Can I hear only

water now that it is near ready.
I wrench the handle to ​Off​ and flush

my ruby earrings down the toilet.
I send my dress down the disposal.

Into the bath—I step with every
pen and cartridge. All that I have had

I break each one over my body.
You should see the ink run—black and blue

laces down my arms. Bleeding carbon
black pollutes and fuses into black

lead veins—the veins that divide color
from color in a stained glass window

—I see it. The plane of the body
is a window without colors. But

it is all well. My husband will be
home soon to color between the lines

of this house—to take care of it all.
Even the faucet that now drips—clear

droplets disturb one grayed surface.
Hear with me—hours of drops until

I recall that I never married.
And I rise—to water the birds myself.




Lauren Schlesinger lives and writes in Chicago. She earned a BA with Honors in poetry from Northwestern University and then an MSED degree from Northwestern University. After teaching for a few years, she went on academic-leave to pursue an MFA in poetry-writing from the University of Washington in Seattle. In the past, Lauren won the American Academy of Poets Jean Aloe Meyer Prize, was a recipient of the Northwestern University Alumnae Graduate Fellowship, and was a finalist in 2009 for the Ruth Lilly Fellowship for the Poetry Foundation. At the present, she teaches creative-writing and English literature classes outside of Chicago and serves as a Visiting Artist in Residence at Northwestern University.

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