First Flashback

To use the phrase unlock the trauma is to perpetuate
a lie, right from the start. There’s nothing locklike
about it, there’s no gleam of bronze on bronze, no

click-and-turn. It’s more like a fist hitting you square
in the gut, the mild whoosh of air in response, up to
and including the exact way you fold over afterwards.

There are no doors to open here. Imagine, if you will,
a woman lying in her room, cold shoulder-
blades sharp against the cold floor. Imagine acetone.

Imagine spilled nail polish remover from where she knocked it
over earlier, while folding. Imagine four white walls.
Her red-gold hair the only thing not white. Why is it

that the color of sadness is black? Black is not the color
of six white pills. Black is not the color of her lacy
bones. It’s a state of mind, white, a way of living or

of not living depending on the time of day. Time warps
and pulls around her head, twenty years spent cold and white,
barely daring to breathe. Imagine this:

the absence of color, the absence of hope. Perhaps. It is not

a thing to be imagined. You cannot look upon

this and live. It is black. The sky outside. She cannot reach.