What’s In A Name

I pull down my underwear and crimson kissed drops fall on the bamboo floor. When I was a child Kay nicknamed me “Red.” What a fascinating psychological study, the woman who nearly died from a rare blood disease as a teenager nicknamed her first born after the color of blood. I feel Kay’s cataclysmic walls of entangled trauma’s silence vibrating within exploding cells. The crusted hammered foundation of unmet needs, tidal waves of desires drowned under the weight of parenting that belittles the soul.
I always thought the nickname Red endearing until I began menstruating. Kay taught me red blood was meant to be soaked up by the blood thirsty creation of patriarchy a white robed silent worker. My cycle was to be controlled, feared, tracked, suppressed. She taught me red pubic hair had to be waxed. The feral unseeing red carpeted entrance into swirling veils of life and death. That God’s only way of addressing me should be exposed or I would be undesirable. She taught me that red hair meant I looked like no one in my family. I learned to apologize for who I was. There was no part of myself I promised to devotion.
Is there any other color more complex than Red? Red is the interior walls of my mother’s self loathing I grew inside of, a cage of bones strung between the jaws of my parent’s beasts that tether the spirit to the body.
Red is the unformed translucent limbs that bled out of me into a white porcelain bowl. The babies who died inside of me, miscarried secrets through the safe keep trap door. Their salty brine cracked into swirling sewage lines, their uncapturable wading wings.
Red is the medicine from the birth of my baby. The pulsing placenta that nourished the dream of my daughter. The birthing tub she took her first breath in. The placenta smoothie I consumed after her birth, bringing my body back to life. Red has bathed my knees, brought me to my knees, scared my knees.
Red is the slit throat of a slaughtered animal. Red is the color of Satan, massacre, the strawberry fields of war, the forbidden apple. Red is the color of passion, seduction, the sweet taste of lips, the rose petals I’ve run down the inner thighs of my lover. Red is the blood of Christ, the seeds of pomegranate that brought the light of Persephone to the underworld, asking us all to winter in the deep secreted walls of ourselves. Red is the tongue of Kali and the egg of Mary Magdalene.
I’ve bled a thousand shades of red to reveal myself. I bend over and wipe drops of blood from the bathroom floor. Pooled pockets of myself, the singing keys of existence departing in notes of gushing psalms. My five year old daughter runs into the bathroom. “Mommy, why is your pee that color?” My daughter’s shirt has raspberry stains on it. There is so much life pulsing with Red sometimes to make my heart skip a beat or churn the inner part of my womb. There is so much pain associated with Red sometimes to make me pray or weep. There is so much joy associated with Red sometimes to make my entire face light up or moan in ecstasy. There is so much complexity with Red sometimes to make me question all of who I am. And now I understand I need not apologize. I am Red.

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