First, the primaries. I’ll whisper them.
Red is meat and lipstick. People try to pretend it’s sex, but most of red is innocent. Candy apples, paper kites. Clown noses.
Blue is vast. Sky and sea; your eyes, that time they opened. The colour of electricity, of physics and noble gases. Heaven is blue.
Yellow is sick. A delirious colour. I am biased, though, thanks to the horrible yellow daisies painted on the walls here.
All other colours are mixtures of these three. They have their merits—green is almost too beautiful—but you can’t see them here, not in any real quantity, and here is where you are. Red for the flush of blood under your skin; blue for the teddy-bears they put in the cots. Yellow for those god-awful daisies.
The rest of the things in this hospital, the vast majority, are white.
Well. Off-white. The colour of death; bones and wedding-dresses. You’ve seen a lot of off-white in here, but hardly any true white. That comes in chance gifts; snow caught out of the air, a pearl in an oyster. A child’s shining tooth, tucked under a pillow.
White lives in every element. Clouds, coral, the heart of flames. It is a false colour of skin—no person is really white, just a shade of pink or blue— and the true colour of the sun.
The soul is white. Not the white of paper or ash, formed from death and rebirth. If anything, it is the white of an exploding star. The exact colour of light.
Light contains every colour in the spectrum. It has passed through everything, piercing the heart of moss, stone, tears, flesh. It is multitudes, as are we, as is the soul.
Light is given human weight. We rejoice at its birth. We rage against its dying, however brief the life.
When we die, we see white light. Some call it a trick of the brain. Others see it as a glimmer of eternity, a widening of vision, and welcome it.
I look at you, knowing the light will come. The doctors haven’t told me when, and I don’t want to know.
I hope it is a gradual process, a progressive lightening of all that lies in darkness.
Denial has no colour. Hope, of course, is white.