Amber & Muddied Red

By Mel Finefrock

It's been a year
Since I last heard your voice,
But I think I finally know
what color it is.

I always thought
it was some sort of amber tone,
but what I couldn't put my finger on
was its aura
of muddied red,
like your heartbeat
snuggled against my ear
when I was a girl;
like that woman's long hair
in your paintings, windows
into your tortured soul;
like the haze I saw
when we careened over the ledge
and you, in your red shirt, whispered,
"Get help."

It's the color
of the sadness
I wished you didn't feel
but had little patience for,
the color
of your fire dying out,
its ashes
scattered to the winds.

The torch you passed
is now my cross to bear,
and I can only hope
that, though perhaps the apple
doesn't fall far from the tree,
the ember spreads
farther from the flame--
not because, in hindsight,
I think you were weak,
but because I know
you'd want me to be stronger,
to burn brighter.

And yet,
although your voice is clearer
more than ever in my mind's eye,
my crayon brain,
struggles to name
such a blend of color,
and I mourn
the silence in its wake.