Amy Poague holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from Eastern Michigan University. Her work has appeared in The Cabinet of Heed, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Mantle, SWWIM Every Day, Really System, Rockvale Review, and Mojave He[art] Review. She is a contributing editor for Barren Magazine.
Your Posthumous Life in Gradations of Pink
Inside your obituary, I am a hesitant conservator.
In your portrait, you wear a one-shouldered red dress
you never would have chosen.
Whose wedding? Whose smile?
Can I restore you in your swagger, flushed pink,
clenching with the effort to please?
The internet does not remember.
In 2005, we laughed at a car in the Aldi lot
because it was not pink enough.
“Maddening” you said, returning the grocery cart.
We saw the secret of the car: a dapper white button-down
washed with a new red bra.
You manned the van back to work
laden with off-brand groceries, both of us singing along with Yeah Yeah Yeahs–
my voice parallel to your voice
parallel to the secret of the van:
silence awash with desire.
Riding passenger side, I wore a magenta shirt and rose-colored sunglasses,
smiled slyly at you. Your whole healthy-pink body smiled back,
nearly swerved into the next lane.
Now marooned in 2019, I listen carefully to no voice, no voice
inside me. The sound (of no voice) smiling.
The (sound of no) voice staining my shirt like insistent lingerie.
You are still singing along somewhere along the line, you insistent lingerer.
Another day you brought me a microphone
so I could sing into my four-track tape recorder–
the promise you followed through on.
This promise came in the original packaging,
a bright pink cardboard box.
If I could rewind the tape, I wouldn’t ask much this time, only
to sing our songs in almost-pink, the point before pink
on color’s numberline.
We wouldn’t sort music from color from integers.
We wouldn’t need to decide.
Our hearts effervesced at points beyond pink.
The microphone didn’t work
but I never gave up hoping that it would, one day.
Dear Sir, I wish I’d kept the box
because you touched it once, and now
your body has no corporeal hands.
You’ve gone to the place sound goes
when a microphone won’t record it,
so I wash my white shirt with red socks
to get ready for a night out.
When I find my love returned by another wayfaring voice,
temporarily singing in a warm human throat,
I will know what you–what color–knows.
I will know how it knows
will be not enough,
how it knows what hue
will be a gift of decisive refracted light.