8: Rainbow

by Jane Carnall

Red: the colour of blood, wine, tomatoes, a cold star, hot coals, coppery gold. This is the red room. Here Jane Eyre crouched in fear of the ghost whom she did not meet for another eight years. Here we may see the ruddy Pekinese ducks, admire the deer and the foxes, and when we are tired we can lie on the bright red carpet and bleed words together, of scarlet sins and red cardinals.

Orange: the colour I forget, the colour I dislike, though I love the fruit and its acid juice. I love all orange fruits, satsumas, mandarins, clementines, kumquats, even the bitterness of grapefruit and of lemon and of lime, though those belong to yellow and to green.

Yellow: the colour of our sun, of pure gold, white wine, some peppers and the flesh of many apples and pears. Urine is hot gold, warm with the heat of the body from which it flowed. This is the yellow light in the centre of the red room: if we hold hands and press together, we can pass through the light, into the world above.

Green: the colour of our home that lurks in our ancestral memories. Green as leaves, or grass, or moss: green as a liqueur: green as recycled glass. The world above is green, even the bark on the trees and the stones grow bright green moss: the fresh young grass is strongly green, and there are no flowers here, to lend another note. If we walk through the trees, thickly tangled though they are, we may come to the cliff and see the sky. The child on the carousel this morning wore sober green, like a soldier, and rode her horse with serious attention, as if it might buck and try to throw her if she were careless.

Blue: the colour of the unpigmented human eye, a mutation that will die out in time, for it is dominant to no other colour of the eye. Sapphires are blue, and where the sea is deep it is the darkest blue of all. And above the sea, the sky, forever blue while the sun shines, and the same blue all over the world. We all share the same sky, though not the same sea. Here by the shore the carousel turns, the music playing, the horses rising and falling with their feet kicking out in a perpetual gallop, their necks reared and their eyes fixed on their own internal horizon.

Purple: the colour of emperors, and the colour among others that the horses on the carousel are painted. The horse the girl rides has a purple saddle. Purple and lavender and violet are all the colours of being gay, of being a lesbian, of being queer: these are our signs, our secret blooms. We stand together, imperially conscious of what we are, of tolerance and kindness, of adopted kindred who must be each other's family, since all too often we lose our own to those who hate the purple.

And together then, all together, red yellow green blue and purple, we blaze the rainbow, and the rainbow lies about us, papering the road with random gay brightness, decorating the street exactly as it falls. This is the rainbow festival.

541 words

13th February 2000

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