This poem came out of the September 2013 crowdfunding
Creative Jam. It was inspired by prompts from elizabethconall
, and ellenmillion
. It also fills the "seduction" square in my card
for the ladiesbingo
fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette."Feel the Rainbow"
When Narcissa woke from the coma,
she felt that something was missing.
She looked down at her body.
It still had two arms and two legs,
albeit covered in bandages from the accident.
She could remember the accident,
a bit vaguely, but enough to know
that another car had hit her from behind
and sent her rolling down an embankment.
She had struck her head against the doorframe
and then finally blacked out.
It could have been worse.
She had been lucky, all things considered.
Yet she could not shake that nagging sense
that something important had gone astray.
Well, perhaps she had lost her purse.
It was only when the doctor came in
to chat about her progress that Narcissa
finally understood what was going on.
"Now that you've woken up,
all signs point to a complete recovery,"
he said. "You'll be able to go home soon.
That should make you happy."
"Not really," Narcissa said.
"You don't feel happy?"
the doctor asked, frowning.
"I don't feel much of anything,"
"Hm," the doctor said,
not a pleased sound at all.
"I'll send someone from psych
down here to talk with you about that."
Narcissa dutifully spoke with the psychologist,
who only succeeded in confirming
what Narcissa had figured out for herself:
her feelings had gone missing.
Later that week, she was sent home
with bottles of pills and an appointment
for some sort of group therapy intended
to help people with emotional disruptions
such as anhedonia or alexithymia.
Narcissa went to the meeting
without much expectation,
but it turned out to be a good thing
that she went, because there
she met Iris for the first time.
Iris was as tall and upright
as Narcissa was short and downcast.
She had glossy black hair
that gleamed blue or purple in the sun,
so unlike Narcissa's ruffle of yellow curls.
Iris had been in the program for months
and had learned countless tricks
to estimate which emotional response
should go with what experience,
to pin down the least flutter of feeling,
and to express emotions openly.
The group often used body paint
to illustrate emotions, because
so many of the members had difficulty
making appropriate expressions.
Narcissa leaned over the paints,
poking at them with a tentative finger.
"That's curiosity," said Iris.
"Curiosity is orange."
She painted an orange cat
on the back of Narcissa's hand.
Narcissa could not feel much,
but it helped, a little,
to have the vivid reminder
of what she should
"You are fortunate
to have so much experience,"
"That's envy," said Iris.
She used the green paint
to draw a concave rectangle with
little curlicues on Narcissa's cheek.
"This is an adinkra symbol
for envy or jealousy."
So it went, one session after another,
Iris helping Narcissa to understand
what she had lost and how to compensate.
The inclinations were still there, some of them,
but Narcissa had lost sight of the motivations.
Sometimes Narcissa did not know what to do.
"You're confused," Iris said, and put
a gray question mark on her forehead.
Narcissa did not realize why
applying for aid made her
sweat and shiver at the same time,
until Iris explained, "You're afraid.
The aid might or might not be granted."
At the top of Narcissa's breastbone,
Iris painted a yellow lion
with its tail between its legs.
After losing her job,
Narcissa found her jaw clenching
so hard that her teeth ground together.
"Rage about it if you can," Iris said,
using purple paint to draw a symbol
that looked a bit like a circle with horns.
Narcissa fell into a slump for a long time,
barely responding to anything
Even Iris had trouble guessing
what she felt or should feel.
"Let's try melancholy," Iris said,
covering Narcissa's arms
with blue rainclouds.
Eventually, Narcissa noticed
that the more time she spent
with Iris, the easier it got
to guess what she should be feeling.
One day Narcissa told a new member
about the use of body paints, and found
the corners of her mouth slowly curling up.
"Happiness?" she guessed,
and Iris gave her a thin smile in return,
then helped her put a pink smiley on her chin.
Sometimes Narcissa caught fleeting glimpses
of emotions, but most of the time, nothing.
She built new skills to replace the lost intuition,
memorized lists of physical clues and
charts of causes and effects.
She studied the colors and symbols,
learned to feel the rainbow.
Gradually Narcissa noticed
that when she was with Iris,
both of them became
more pink and less blue.
Iris was always ready
with a kind word
or a comforting touch,
coaxing Narcissa into
the safe harbor of her regard.
Given a choice to be with Iris
or with someone else,
Narcissa invariably picked Iris.
It became habit to see each other
and reach for the pink paint.
One day Narcissa mentioned this
as she watched Iris spiral in
through the small crowd,
ever closer to herself.
"That's love," said Iris,
and she painted red roses
on the palms of their hands.
* * * Notes:Anhedonia
is an inability to feel pleasure. Alexithymia
is difficulty feeling, identifying, and/or expressing emotions.
Read about the stages of loss
.Colors of emotions
have various correspondences. Other symbols also have meanings.
See a curiosity cat
This is the jealousy & envy adinkra symbol
Here is gray confusion
The cowed lion
comes from heraldry.
Rage can be symbolized with horns
falls on everyone sometimes.
Here is a pink smiley
Love is a red rose
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