Jonathan Highfield



PALETTE

Tuesday morning, driving to Boston to see the plastic surgeon,
anxious but awed by the morning with its promise of renewal,
the trees are all budding out in that spring tree color and I'm five years old
again, with my 64 color box of Crayola crayons open in front of me,
methodically taking out Spring Green to color the leaves of my picture.
This is back before I could see, well, not literally, but if you looked at my
drawings
you would have noticed that trees were all brown trunks topped by blobs of
green.
Three years later getting my glasses, I will exclaim to the amusement of my
parents
that I can actually see the leaves, until then I had imagined that they only took
form
when one got close to the tree, emerged as jagged oak and maple, smooth
poplar or narrow willow.
Other crayons I might use were Burnt Sienna for the trunk and my favorite,
Thistle, would probably appear somewhere, flowers under the tree
or a splash of color in the sky, clouds streaked at sunset.

Those colors are all gone from the Crayola Box now, replaced by Neon Pink,
Tropicana, and HiLighter Yellow.  Fewer kids know what a thistle is today, I
guess,
and even I was always hazy about Burnt Sienna, though it did make great tree
bark.
So changes come and each loss may bring a gain,
though I had an Egg McMuffin the other day, my first in a decade, and it
seemed
so smaller than I remembered and the egg was chewy and overcooked,
no warm egg yolk squirting down my chin,
so sometimes a loss is just a loss
and the children drawing with the new crayon box see the world differently
than I did,
HiLighter Yellow resonates for them more than Spring Green, I imagine,
and their drawings reflect this and maybe that's neither loss nor gain,
though using my daughters' crayons and carefully staying in the lines
or removing my glasses and scribbling blurry blobs for trees I can never
capture the way things should look, the colors are never right and that's how it
will feel with you gone.



Jonathan Highfield is an Associate Professor of English at Rhode Island School of Design, where he teaches a wide range of courses in colonial and postcolonial literatures.  His poems have appeared in The New Review.  He lives in North Scituate, Rhode Island, and likes to cook with the vegetables from his garden.








                                    

 

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