48 Notes on Blue
1. I sleep with Bluets under my pillow for 8 days. I divide the 240 sections by 8 and read 30 sections each night. When my eyes wander to the next number when it’s not time yet I scold myself & shut my eyes closed and slip the book back under my pillow under my head and that’s when I sleep.
2. When I visit her in the hospital she is propped up in a sitting position with 8 pillows. When the nurse comes to rearrange them she takes one away. I say, “sorry, but she wants 8, it’s her favourite number.” 8 becomes my favourite number. I admit to myself that I lied about 8 being her favorite number but no one is around to hear.
7. Palliative. I hold her body. I feel each angle. Gowns look like Comme des Garçons on her, the sides all folded up. Continuous pain. I hold her body. When she coughs I intuit rather than see the continuous pain. I fold. I chip my tooth clenching my jaw. I fold. I try to translate the word empathy in a way that accounts for how much it can turn inwards. I fold. I hold her body. I hate the T.V. that shows women running in a field with their damn tampons. SHE NEVER EVEN GOT TO USE TAMPONS WHEN SHE COULD RUN AND WAS YOUNG I yell into my own self, turning inwards. I fold.
9. Sitting on their blue pull-out couch I aggressively make eye contact. When we start kissing I feel like I am dropping down with my diving bell. I realize that when I see them I drown and when I do not see them I do not drown. This binary at least seems uncomplicated. I have no narrative to understand this feeling so I decide that they were/are my baby blue and I love them.
11. She looks out the window—wide and double paned. Clean. The wide-open sky is blue. A cold blue which is the clearest kind. She looks out with me parallel at the sky—when her eyes focus she asks “what’s out there, out the window? Out there on the other side of the river?” I lean over and look down at the parking lot, the iced over courtyard begetting no water, no river; highways beyond the intersections and nothing but salt and pavement.
14. I see the blue sky the salt freeway the no / water the othersideoftheriver out the window I fold I stand and walk out down the hall I open a bathroom door and I fold. I am on my hands and knees. I fold. I heave. I vomit. Just bile, spit. I turn over and slam my back down. I lay with my palms held open. I vomit nothing but air. I fold into myself like a child in sleep
18. I want them to stay. Baby blue. Baby baby please—
25. Being conscious is unbearable for her and therefore the room is unbearable. I bear it until I can’t anymore. This is my freedom, no longer her freedom.
27. Without someone here to fuck me I get bored. Moody, resentful. I want to fill myself with something, like the crystal blue glass dildos I found on amazon. Hundreds of them stacked inside of me. Or I want something horrifying, like letting a man choke me again, or fucking a couple from tinder who wear wraparound sunglasses. You know, I wanna do something really gross like that.
32. Eli watches me fold myself into the pink armchair. I fit into it like a folded sheet. Lying upside down, I see them walk down the hallway, open the door, leave. They come back with applesauce, clementines, plain Pringles. Baby food.
36. My beautiful friend stands at the head of the dinner table on New Year’s Eve and commands us, as she does—“we need,” she says, somehow looking at all of us in the eyes at once,
“we need to start treating our FRIENDS like LOVERS! and our LOVERS like FRIENDS!”
39. I am cagey, unopened. I don’t want to fold anywhere because where I am folded, there I am a lie. I read signs of impending death compulsively, I try to figure out what happened. The medical explanation of a death rattle is sickening. The ways in which bodies fold inward, become un-needing, in preparation for failure, for endings, I struggle for a way to say it: bodies just know when they will stop. Hers were not death rattles but peeps, like a child’s deep dreaming, or a little Boston terrier, a cute sound like that. Sitting in the hallway, filming the giant koi fish circling their tank, I could still hear the peeps.
41. I want an unfettered day! I want an unbearable day! I want a mirror! Mirror makers know the secret: one does not make a mirror to resemble a person, one brings a person to the mirror. Like a story, like notes, like blue, like a colour meaning something or maybe meaning just itself—its always been about me, you know, that’s the way poems are, like opening a folded note, like changing the sheets, washing them, putting them down again, like asking if the blue is fading, like knowing that it might—
I wanted to tell you / when someone is dying / they turn their head towards the light.
43. Blue is the colour most commonly associated with harmony, faithfulness, confidence, distance, infinity, the imagination, cold, and sometimes with sadness. In 2016 the pantone colours of the year were Serenity, a dusty blue, twinned with Rose Quartz, the colour of an expensive iPhone. Why do they have to be like that? Brother and sister, the first duo colours to win in a decade. Unlike millennial pink, blue has not enjoyed a recent surge in popularity.
47. I surface / I drown. I fold / I open. I write down anything that seems blue when I hear it. I grow tired of the story and try to change it. I stop saying or writing though the colour is still everywhere.
48. I ask if is her favourite colour, and she does not answer—
Maggie Nelson’s 2009 Bluets is a book of prose poetry that considers love, grief, and loss through numbered meditations on the colour blue. A classic choice for sad queers and thoughtful lovers. I read it this winter, started to see blue everywhere, and wrote it all down.
Karissa LaRocque is currently an MA candidate in English at Concordia University, where you can find her looking out the window or subtweeting herself at @_karissy.