Quite some time ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, that same institution to which I’d run in the months following the demise of a relationship with the only man who’s ever really mattered to me (he mattered too much, which terrified me, and I didn’t matter enough, which I knew… and so the thing was doomed to fail), the cessation of my employment at Borders (turns out I’d had the sense to jump ship before the thing sank), and the months prior to the death of my older brother.
To this day, I want to weep with the gratitude that I had that place to turn — I made wonderful friends there and learned from some of the most incredible professors I’ve had the privilege to know.
I’d not been blessed to know Wendy Barker — not until four years ago. She’d been invited to speak at the small college here in town, to read her poetry.
I’d been tasked with writing an article advancing the event. I sent her questions; she sent me answers. At that time I’d not read her work; I was struck by her poem Color Analysis:
Swatches of fabric held to my face I am a “Summer,” am told I mustn’t wear winter, clear, sharp colors of gems: rubies, sapphires, emeralds Nothing too strong, definite I am semi-precious: amethyst, aquamarine, colors of sky. I am probably an air sign Think of breezes, says my color counselor I am told to have nothing to do with the press of bright yellow, liquid greens that rush the landscape in April and May. Autumn would overwhelm me. To what season, then, am I linked apparently forever, floating rootless on pale air? Am I simply to sway here on wisps of gray pale cloud, a little gasp of pink
As I read, I was overwhelmed by the thought that I am a winter.
I am winter who longs for summer, for the warmth the heat and the light the brightness, the airiness, the softness of the pinks and the pale yellows the sweetness of baby blue the joy and the fun and the peaceful easy the long and lazy sunny day I am winter clothed in sapphire Cold and stark and barren frigid and chilling and dark I am winded. Crisp and sharp bold and brutal, bleak and depressing I am howling and blustering, wounded and haunted. Ruby red from the rage and the weeping. Bitter and broken emerald green from the envy How could anyone want to be winter?
Originally published February twenty-sixth, ‘sixteen.