Broadbrush

In which I use time

I grind up hours and daub them on canvas.

Ten o’clock is a carmine that has a mind of its own, eleven o’clock an aquamarine that I never quite mix enough of, twelve o’clock is a delicate pink with an unsuspectingly tenacious stain on my palette. 

Daylight momentarily resists, then crumbles under pressure and feathers the bottom of a milky jar. Time pours into a stained yoghurt tub, pours out, pours in, pours out.

There is barely a moment spared for eating, cleaning, or rolling sore shoulders: every second needs to be channelled into pigment. 

When the last of daylight has been scraped from the jar, the colours begin to warp. 

The colours of the night like to deceive. Ten o’clock is a deep purple that looks black under the electric lights, I know eleven o’clock to be a light limey green but I can only see yellow, twelve o’clock refuses to blend smoothly, chunks of burnt orange floating in a tangerine base.

The canvas sits and waits for time to dry upon its surface. I scrub minutes from my fingers, seconds from beneath my nails, and an unruly moment from its attempted escape onto my shirt. 

I discharge time from its monotonous polytone task, and release it to transform into other things.

Out of my shell

In which I find a new home

I crawled into my first shell in childhood, a tiny whorl of cream that settled a comforting weight around my shoulders.

Likes reading, more slapdash than her brother, bit of a temper, proud, lies really well, perfectionist.

I outgrew that first shell in my teenage years and found myself a larger one, a cone splattered with brown.

Thoughtful, doesn’t like getting things wrong, good at big picture stuff, hates trying new things unless she knows she’ll be good at them. Good with other people but doesn’t always have the confidence to speak up. 

When I headed to university, I moved into a long pale spiral that gleamed inside.

Works well with others but needs her own space, will step up to lead if given a shove. Picks things up quickly, sees too many sides to successfully argue just one angle.

And so I moved as I changed, finding new homes whenever I outgrew the last.

I’ve been in my current shell for the last few years. It’s a gorgeous mottled green, fading to yellow at the tip. It fitted well, holding all that I am, all that I enjoy, and all that I was capable of. 

But now it hangs loose about me.

The person who chose this home saw the world differently, had different expectations, and had assumptions that can no longer come to pass. 

It is time to choose another shell.

There is a sadness in leaving one behind: I’m losing the familiar and the loyal, and moving into the unknown. But with change comes potential and possibility.

This new shell will contain my new self as it moves along a perpendicular path. It will be a shelter to life’s tides, a safe place to regroup and regrow. 

And one day it will feel like home.