Blue by Owen Torrey

POEM TITLE: Blue POET NAME: Owen Torrey  POEM: September still and still more than warm enough to be out on the porch where I am when through the half-open door a corner of canvas appears with a skateboard beneath it. Ada comes after, pulling her painting the size of her. She sits next to me, the canvas opposite. I’m presenting it in class today but don’t want to, she says. What is there to say? We consider the problem. Before me what was once blue suddenly becomes a shape in the shape of sheets on a bed, a faint suggestion of walls. In her room last night, we sat sipping ice from plastic cups, the only light a floor lamp throwing diffuse gasps up at us. We leaned in closer. We were trying to decipher steps on a bottle of hair-dye bought from the CVS on Mass. Ave. The dye had called itself “Midnight Stroll.” It was all wrong, we agreed, its blue more like light at the top of day, the bottom of a pool. I watched Ada turn to her raised window, the night outside dark enough to make a mirror from the glass, reflecting her face out into the neighbor’s elm. She applied the dye, hands sliding down through each strand, each branch. It should all be blue, she said. I showed her where she missed. My hand’s still stained around the edges this morning, I’m rubbing at it as Ada says: I was thinking about interior and exterior space, how we orient ourselves inside one to the other. Inside her car last year, the window was open wide. We could hear the ice gashes whistling behind us, as the car slipped northwards and home. I watched March, its light spilled, staining highway shoulders, her neck, my hand. Above, the sky the colour of what I now know to be Midnight Stroll, Neighbor’s Elm. At the border, the guard stood impatiently beneath this blue and asked us: Relationship? To our answer—Friends— he insisted, Partners? It was impossible for him to imagine. Why, he asked, would you drive a friend to Canada?  In the painting, there is no division between object or form, certain moments of structure surface only to fail to give shape to blue. The blue that is the bed is also the air, the hair is the hand, the bed is the elm, the hair is the hair, and the air’s getting colder by the time I help Ada maneuver the painting, the skateboard, down each step, the colour applied so thick it’s heavy. What can you say about it? What can you say about such blue? I want to know. Reaching a hand to grab the canvas, my fingers brush beside her braid as the blue of us slides between each other like water on a map. Tell your class this, Ada: I love you, Midnight Stroll, because you are nothing like your name and everywhere, in every person who has walked through CVS bored, not knowing they did not need you because you were already inside them. I love you. I do. Nothing else to say. Just this: I love you so much I would drive you to Canada. END OF POEM.  CREDITS AND BIO: Copyright © Owen Torrey Owen Torrey is a writer from Toronto. His poetry and non-fiction have recently appeared in Canadian Literature, CBC Books, Exclaim!, and elsewhere. He has been long-listed for the 2020 CBC-Radio Canada Poetry Prize, featured at the Toronto International Book Fair, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He currently works for the editorial department at Knopf Canada.