Delgado- May I Not Be Buried Alive While Playing DeadThe sky is violet. No really, it is. The sun set in red, the kind I imagine happens all the time in the desert. A switch flipped inside when I saw it—a cog turned and something whirred into place in my brain and it reminded me of the sun in a children’s book I had to read last week, one about the dinosaurs and the end of everything. So I was scared, just on that somewhere-in-my-uterus level. Probably when the world ends again it will happen on a regular Saturday night, when we’re taking in a red sun over beers or over the last few pages of work before we get to go out. Most people won’t even see it.

Anyway, it set red, and I guess the sky is incredibly blue, so now it’s violet, Violet. But I didn’t write because of the sky. That was an aftereffect of thinking about gel pens. Do you remember those, that night? We didn’t sleep. We were lying on couches foot to nose with the TV on in the background, hovering above dreams. The light came in through the blinds. There were wrappers all over the floor, but I didn’t remember eating anything. We were friends, finally. Everything was important. My life had been squishy, undefined. Puberty hung wobbly lines over my shoulders and around my waist, and wove them into the uncertain spine of my personality. None of them had taken any kind of shape yet. But what you wrote, in pink, in teal, in silver, it tugged the hesitant brushstrokes around me. With thorough, patient notes, you guided them into the grooves you’d found, settled them into place. Like magnetic sand, with your gel pen letters you painted me kind, good, true. You rendered me electric. Purposeful, boundless. I was tall, which came as a surprise. My jerky, uncertain movements, my feet that fell with thuds that were too aware of their own weight, they were graceful.

In the black print of your notebook, in your own hand, you were saline. You were stale. Brittle, hollow, broken. I emptied swirls of color to fill these letters up, untie them from within. I did not have the power of your pen. You were afraid I would only see the ocean that had made its home inside you but all I saw was the girl mermaid, the Nereid water soldier, the selkie who kept that sea at bay. My first memory of perfection, of wholeness, was that morning with the light on our hair. The first days at the end of a long winter. The sun hadn’t warmed yet, but it showed up, and the air smelled like salt and snow and crocuses. You sat in front of me in a black dress. You opened a jar of powder and took out a brush, and you swept it across your face and the shimmery dust mingled with the mites in the air and the buttery light. I could still see your freckles under the makeup, and you smiled and I saw a grown woman. Fully formed, steely-eyed poet made of flesh and bone. You were the first person who came into focus as somebody. You were something to behold.

When the ocean comes back for you, I imagine a trident in your heart. That girl in the black dress with powder over freckles holds fast, maybe she has a fish tail or a seal tail or maybe she has legs, she stands in the water and she makes her home. She pulls back the trident and the shells leave their coral trees to guard her and the tide calms. She smiles and I see her and she’s holding a gel pen and sun sleeps on her hair while she takes her time with the words.


Claire Horn is a London-based Nova Scotian, freelance editor, and BFF of multiple witches. Other work by Claire has recently been published at Entropy. Musings at @bucketfulofgold.

Illustration by  David Delgado “May I Not Be Buried Alive While Playing Dead”


Monday, July 11 2016