YELLOWED by Steven D. Schroeder
The shade we named sidewinder
fang hung on a signpost
at the main-gate lookout tower—
another, tree die-off, we newsprinted
into leaflets about how far
until the next water supply.
None on spyglass lenses could filter
the color of a highway,
color of highrises over highway,
moonrise color over both.
But we tried, oh yes, we tried,
and what thanks did we get?
Trace of desolation we made
sandstorm around the shantytown
outskirts, light warning
light perimeter fence around
each rebel’s house. Though we did it
for their own good, the restless
chased westward color,
color of piston strokes, of coastline
close by. When dizziness and nausea
poured from the ears and pores
of runaways who planned
a breakout for the wasteland,
when sulfur or suffer bubbled up
hip-deep as wet cement,
it built character. At their age,
we too had believed in the color
with no border, with no shudder,
nonstop color. Because we said so
was why outsideresque and two types
of worry and wait wait wait
replaced those other crayons.
Who else would think of the children?
Our littlest ones, who left us
last, were the color that represented
open, mountaintop color,
color that meant