The color before the sun rises, due east,
as the horizon is painted
with streaks from heaven like a stained brush
across the celestial canvas.
The color of hotel swimming pools at 7 A.M.—
deserted and calm,
flat water undisturbed like the church ceiling
where I was baptized.
The color of the high dive in the heat of summer,
chlorine rising in the air
with its bleach-strong scent that will stain
my skin for days.
The color of my wet hair’s sheen when I hold it just right,
illuminated by the skylights
that open the ceiling of my parents’ upstairs bathroom
to the ceiling of the world.
The color of midnight moths tearing at the window panes,
beating their paper wings
faster than I would dare to breathe, lest I risk
touching the paper sky.
The color of television static against the wall,
ten years ago—
when my parents used to stay up late together
before my brother was born.
The color of the denim jacket around my skin,
stiff but forgiving
as I brace my arms like narrow shields
against the wind.
The color of the nightlight that brightens my bedroom,
a glow that steadily burns
against the monsters that pour from inside my closet
and trickle from under my bed.
The color of oncoming winter filling my nostrils,
cold and thrilling
like the high rise before the roller coaster
comes rushing down.
The color of the moon when you see it twice
in a single empty month,
pale like my oldest friend’s bare shoulder
pressed against my pillowcase.
The color of whispered secrets in my ear—
don’t play truth or dare
when it’s impossible to find reality
amidst a million liars.
The color of true love—not red like a beating heart,
but just the opposite:
the blue of the veins I see through your skin
as you sing me to sleep.
Gabriella Miller has a BA in English Literature from the University of Vermont. She is an avid reader and writer, and lives in Vermont with her parents and two cats.