detail of kitchen wall with cream color paint

A stack of paint chips in sandstone, lemon, and cream
spreads across the kitchen counter like a Tarot reading.
Paint the kitchen sandstone, and the house will sell.
Lemon, and our cupcakes will rise fluffy and light.
Cream and there will be sex on the countertops,
late night conversations at the table with two mouths
for each strawberry, more hope than our ravenous
appetites for eggrolls can satiate. This is how paint chips
will save us. Better than lottery tickets, better than cash.
The kitchen won’t be so tired, propping its 60s self up
and trying to groove to the olive-green walls and brown tiles.
I won’t be so tired, propping up the self I used to be
against too many near-expired cans of soup
and boxes of unfinished Girl Scout cookies. The one dying plant.
The three 1/3 full liquid soap dispensers. All the teas.
But a fresh coat of lemon, a touch of cream on the cabinets,
sandstone to take my clown fall of a life seriously, these colors
whisper I could be someone, or better yet be nobody,
the disappeared host of a loud and vibrant dinner party.
What no one tells you: It isn’t the color you choose. It’s the act
of dip and roll, stretch of arms like you’re waving to someone great.
It’s being worn out at the end of the day from hard work
and not from its lack. Still, I won’t keep you in suspense.
You can touch my knee as you reach for the Cool Whip,
you can stay until morning, make Jackson Pollock designs
on the plates under our sunny side up eggs on toast.
Stay longer if you want, until the sweet cream softens
to a dingy ivory, until we decide together on a new shade of blue.
 
 
EDITOR’S NOTE: This poem was selected from entries submitted to our Creative Challenge Series #61: First Sentence, which required that the first sentence must be used as given. Read other Creative Challenge winners. To find out how to participate, go to Creative Challenges.