take a well suited canvas of a choice not yours,
squeeze out a blob of the sky from a tube;
feel the familiarity of your mother’s kind eyes.
Take more and more out till you tremble
with the cold that it leaves behind quietly.
Listen! They teach you how to hold the brush,
and they might tell you what to draw too.
You think carelessly, ‘let me learn and do
as they say and do as they do.’ Biggest
mistake you ever made, you lament years later
when the acrylic has dried and there it lies,
your art, gathering dust above your firm sofa.
You don’t know how to draw without references
or scales and erasers, you wish you could.
Somehow it hurts so much more because
few others rebelled and coloured beyond
the borders and made a beautiful mess.
While you stay inside this cage of conformity.
Now they expect you to do great things, now,
they’ve let go of your hands but your mind
is tied and no one ever taught you how to undo
the knot. All you can do is play the blame game
and wonder why you didn’t throw a tantrum;
why your parents didn’t try to tame you.
Constant, like a drumbeat, these thoughts.
Let’s try something new, it’s time for change.
Pour in a touch of red on the palette, it’s so
warm and inviting! You can feel it melt away
little by little the glacial thoughts in your mind.
Dip your brush in water, mix and mix till
the water turns blue and gets out of your hair.
Your mind is clear, you smear the red around.
For once, you try to make wayward patterns.
You have nothing left to lose, so go to town
with the swirls of red that whisper your name.
They’re passionate and refreshing and
beautiful and aggressively so; they glow like
the moon, the size you were meant to grow.
So you take and take and then some more,
till your canvas is the crime scene it always
felt like, except now it looks it too. You’re
learning to bleed and it hurts much less so,
Than when you were breaking bones, moulding.
You’re finally doing everything wrong but it’s
all right. They wanted this from you but never
do they preach what they mean. Nothing ever
means what it reads. But now, you know better.
One more enthusiastic stroke, and suddenly
there’s no longer only red. A darker colour
of bitterness and regret has stained your hands.
Madness, madness is what that was, later
you come to realise, when you see the
array of ruined clothes and canvases.
You had scared the others yet again,
but this time for novel reasons that you
still don’t completely understand.
All your mistakes and merits are on display
but no one seems to notice either, turns out.
Everything is as blank as the day you joined,
That fateful class, surrounded by strangers
who grew to be more, but you never did;
White lies, they give you balance, lavender.
You can’t keep staring at the ruins forever,
no one will bother even if you do stop but,
stopping was never an option, was it?
Clear the room, make it as empty as you,
start over, but don’t forget, never forget.
Pick up your paints, and your brushes.
And don’t you ever put them down. Now,
you will use more colours than do exist,
and you will do more than just breathe.