I write with a carefully selected black pen. Trying to describe a feeling.
A woman sits next to me. From her bag, she withdraws several colorful fluorescent ink pens. She spends some time arranging them before her. She smiles at the neatness of the spread and at the variety of colors.
Seeing her with these pens — seeing how she enjoys them — I feel a particular and peculiar kind of sadness.
It is close to embarrassment. I was like this once. I am like this still, but I conceal it, knowing it is safer not to be.
It is close to loss. I think of my mother and of her love of floral stationary. I think of arguments with siblings over the distribution of colors. I think of the pain we shared.
It is close to guilt. The world is filled with unending suffering. Why should she or I take pleasure in such frivolity?
It is close to wonder. The world is filled with unending suffering. How could she or I take pleasure in such frivolity?
It is close to regret.
But it’s right there.
Concentrated in the image of the woman smiling at her beautiful, colorful pens.
It is shining.
Fulla Abdul-Jabbar is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn. She teaches in the Department of Writing at the Pratt Institute and is Editor and Curator at the Green Lantern Press. She has performed or exhibited at SPACES, Defibrillator, Woman Made Gallery, ACRE, BBQLA, St. John University in York, the University of East London, the Electronic Literature Organization, the Altered Aesthetics Film Festival, and the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Bad at Sports, DIAGRAM, Bombay Gin, Passages North, and Prairie Schooner.
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