Wednesday, 12 January 2011

On Reading Toni Morrison’s ‘The Bluest Eye’ While Watching My Daughter Draw Unicorns by James Valvis

I close the book to look at my daughter’s drawing.
Rainbows and unicorns are everywhere.
People with colorful eyes
smile sky-blue teeth that take up half their faces.
She wants to know if it’s good, and I tell her it is.
Then I open the book and read again,
but my mind wanders to gemstones, of all things,
and I think, a ruby is red
because it can accept every color but red;
and an emerald is green because it can’t accept green.
And it’s not just that way for rocks either.
The banana skin you think is yellow isn’t yellow,
it’s every color but yellow,
yellow alone bouncing back to our eyes.
A little more reading, and I decide,
this is true of the races of people also.
The people we call brown are everything but brown,
and the Indians are not reddish
but blue and burnt umber and purple.
Try getting your head around that.
What we see is the rejected color, not what we accept.
If we could see beyond the rejection,
we’d see that each thing is a near-complete spectrum,
colors forever moving through the form.
And then we’d have no need for political correctness,
marches, morons shaving their rainbow heads,
or race-baiters shaking down CEOs.
And the girl in this Toni Morrison novel
who wants the blue eyes,
she’d know she always had them,
and pink eyes too, and peach, and gold,
and any color an imaginative child cared to scribble.

James Valvis, Washington, USA


Crafty Green Poet said...

James Valvis lives in Issaquah, Washington. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in such venues as Arts & Letters, Atlanta Review, Blip, Catalonian Review, Eclectica, Iodine, Hanging Loose, Nimrod, Los Angeles Review, Pank, Rattle, Red Fez, River Styx, Slipstream, and South Carolina Review. He is a two-time 2010 Best of the Web nominee, a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, and a novella was a Notable Story in storySouth's Million Writers Award. A collection of his poems is due from Aortic Books next year.

Jessie Carty said...

Jim - really love the overall tone in this one. You have a really fresh take on a possibly cliched topic. I can just hear you almost relating this to a child, trying to find a way to explain the unexplainable. Great work :) And thanks for letting me know about the lit mag!

Annmarie Lockhart said...

Love, love, love this! And I'm totally sure Toni Morrison would love it too.

CMDoran said...

This is beautiful..involving all colors...thank you for writing and thinking [I hope everyone listens to you]

Unknown said...

Love it!

Outsideofacat said...

i like how this is "small" and "big" at the same time.