c. Mary Kathryn Gough
~Free-Write Response to Toni Morrison’s Beloved~
Red. The Hated. Manifestation of Desire. Passion which pulls so many into its pool: helpless, raging, drowning, dying. . . Rememory refusing its offering again and again, finding healing in grey, in brown, in blue, and black, black-and-blue— Pain: my salvation (long, dark corridor to ressurrection!).
Our every carmine heart is hidden. Hidden for a reason. You can’t put your finger on it, can’t but wave with absent conviction at a swirl of smoke, of dust, and say there, there it lies. Beneath, around, *within*. . . Substance barely there. But there, nonetheless. . . What hides it, I wonder? Could we be thwarting ourselves?
When I was a teenager, my mother tried to bring me out of my shell by dressing me in beautiful, rich folds of Red fabric. She loved the way it looked against my pale skin and golden hair, the way it made my eyes (with their deeply blue rootedness– in something, somewhere back behind me) jump out and bite you. She had a dress made of this soft, dewy, carmine velvet, a dress most girls would have killed for, and people who saw it said most guys would have killed to see me in it. But it hung in my closet for years, learning the shape of its thin, hard, bare hanger, abandoned and lonely– and I know my mother shed tears over the waste. Over the rejection– the split she saw happening within me.
I walked through Junior High and High School, proudly, invisibly– velvet myself, such that people’s vision blurred when they looked at me, and their memories covered over the blurs or ignored them. I made them work *hard* to rememory me. Faded, I wore tan, brown, grey, blues– and on bold days, black. Unobtrusive and obscure, I made myself scarce, and lived in an inner world haunted by my past and my pain. No one else need know about my struggle. I walked about, proudly. Invisibly. Separate.
I did not know the color Green, did not understand growing things, or why one drinks water.
You cannot truly appreciate Green until you know Red, in all its glory, power, and love. Until you learn to love your heart: glory and power– manifest the hands and feet of the Son of Man on Earth. Love in the Flesh: Divine Truth. You cannot effectively, knowingly foster the tendriling vines in your life until you’ve grown to be old friends with Red: red of the heart, of the blood, and of the rose, of the desire for Life that keeps us beating, beating at the obstacles in our path and at the unform-ed-ness of our Selves. At the Hated: the Hate that beats us back and swallows us up. In loneliness. In self-contempt.
It took me a long long while, most of my life, to realize that all the helpless, raging, drowning, dying happens in the echo-empty un-self *around* the carmine borders of the heart, as we try (and die like flies) to reach it. I find I must tell myself every day that the answer to all our fears is Red, slick and juicy-cunning: full-of-Life. Do we dare embrace such a bold and daring color? Such a color as anyone, improperly informed, can slip from, off the wrong side, into an abyss of Nothingnes, no-self? Do we dare risk drowning to learn our Selves and thereby reach and grasp again to claim our Red, Red Hearts?
For it is only after we have made this journey,
and staked our claim,
that we can give
Red we know is truly
c. Mary Kathryn Gough, 10/27/05 2.20 am
picture: PS edit of stock photo at deviantart website: deviant *Harpiai