the color of wax

Photo from
Photo from

“What is the color of wax?”–an old poem by me

“The average child in the United States will wear down 730 crayons by his 10th birthday (or 11.4 boxes of 64s). Kids, ages 2-8, spend an average of 28 minutes each day colouring. Combined, children in the US spend 6.3 billion hours colouring annually, almost 10,000 human lifetimes.” –

Ninety-six slivers of the rainbow stood shoulder to shoulder in their bright yellow box,
beckoning me to splash color onto my blackwhite world and ignore
the advent of laws and lines. Purple pizzazz adorned an apple
growing on a tickle-me-pink tree towering over the
robin egg blue of my mother’s stick figure body, floating in the air.

Every day I pressed the pigment to the page like a mortar to a pestle,
swirling and grinding the paraffin sticks into blunt nubs,
as I tried to shape a world out of shades I could barely pronounce
yet somehow understood from the color wheel whirling in the
bending corridors of my imagination.

Hungry to sample the wild watermelon, the granny smith apple, the macaroni and cheese,
I placed crayon after crayon into my mouth, hoping the color would translate taste to my tongue, but instead discovering that light red and bright green and orange-ish yellow
don’t taste like their color or like their names but like the sweet
smell of wax that lingers on their skin.

Photo From scottwillis
Photo From scottwillis

We were inseparable for years, the Crayons and I—
At night, as they slumbered on top of my desk, lying horizontally in their bunked, alphabetical rows in the shadowy darkness of Midnight Blue, I would scrub their remnants from beneath
my stubby fingernails, and relive the colors of my day.
An afternoon under a periwinkle sky, a meal at the burnt sienna table, a goldenrod smile.

But now I have traded my Electric Lime, Pacific Blue and Razzle Dazzle Rose for black, gray and white, for a precise fine tip pen and .5 mechanical pencil, for small bottles of correction fluid
with wet wands that sweep over inked mistakes bleeding on ruled notebooks.
For the black type born from the blinking cursor and the tap tap tap of the backspace key,
I have traded my yellow chest of magic.

When I went back home last Sunday, I found the Crayolas in my bottom desk drawer,
spilling out of their crumpled box and splayed across a stack of blank paper.
Their limbs snapped in half, their sides stripped of those thick paper overcoats,
they were naked and smooth and screaming like abandoned infants,
aching to be born again.