Palettes – by Tamara K. Walker

(c) 2013 Tamara K. Walker

Walking unassumingly down the muted cement streets of a formerly cosmopolitan shopping district on a summer afternoon to the distant ebbs of a one-hit wonder from over a decade ago.

We tried, E, but it just didn’t phase our world the way we anticipated.  Our efforts influenced our own paracosms more than the nested spheres we sought to recolor.  We were too ambitious, I suspect, and our internal organization unraveled quickly for want of more cooperative personalities.  You just can’t drill holes through Russian dolls that fast.

Quiet desertion under a watercolor sky, yesterday’s (or the day before yesterday’s) hotspot mall now a silent courtyard, inhabited mainly by empty modules and gulls.

I’m uneasy.  I think some of the things we did in the name of activist pragmatism were questionably justifiable.  The politicking makes me unproud.  Shadows creep up on you stealthily and before you know it you’re standing mostly in the shade.

There isn’t much sadness here–only the faded dignity of a once-hopping era and the remnants of ritz and glass in the curb.  New-shoed toes nudge the shards of a shattered bottle.

You’re doing well, I hear.  I heard.  Working within the established system to achieve our aims, freelancing—nice—and I’m not doing badly for myself, despite outside eyes telling me otherwise.  You’re the kind of leader who needs to be because the incompetence of other people irks you so.  I’m the kind of leader who only leads out of necessity, reluctant.

A jaunt up the art districts.  Not much has changed, save the dilettante crowds clamoring for culture and a cappuccino, now absent.  Lunch at the art museum in an adjunct overpriced, pretentiously named cafe in near-solitude.

We were more concerned with our own image within the organization than the organization’s image to the exterior. That was our truly fatal mistake, I think.  It’s exhausting, expending all of that energy to look good to the first and last people who should be concerned about it.

Odd nostalgia in opening an unread novel obtained long ago at a nearby bookstore.  The sculpted shadows surrounding the pristine tablecloths recess.  Sundial yawn.

I remember, oh yes—you revealed your softer side, and we grew closer.  Women like us are bound by more than our surface histories of discordance cruelly installed in infancy; pond ripples and piano string vibrations keep each other company as a single entity is set tensely, tersely in motion.  You were all business—with a contained sense of humor, but personally aloof, until we were in your apartment and I was feeling your pale caresses, tentative from years of celibacy but propelled by desire.  Even after a tender act of carnal dessert you didn’t want to be held or slept with, insisting that I lie on the other side of the bed or, ideally, on your couch.  I must have looked forlorn when I asked, because you relented, and you let me lie my head beside yours on the pillow.  That’s the image that always appears when I think of you, when I think of us, like an avatar—my long, brown waves mingled with your lengthy black columns of ringlets, on a fluffy surface staring up into the ceiling.  As I stared up and you drifted off into a nap, I imagined that I was lying my head on your breasts and that you were stroking my hair, telling me I’m a good girl in tones I’d only once heard you use.

Searching for a description, you realize that your palette is still intact, albeit a little sparse of colorful oil paint. The globs of pigment now merely streaks.

Someday, we’ll meet up again and we’ll generate a fresh network, try anew.  We feed off of each other.  It’s bound to happen.  That day is coming soon, E.  Mark my words.

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Tamara K. Walker is a habitual reconceptualizer of things, a playfully pugnacious postmodern perceiver of the irreal-ish, and an accomplished amateur semiotician of the human form.  Her writing has previously appeared in Apocrypha and Abstractions, LYNX: A Journal for Linking Poets, and nin: a journal of erotic poetics.


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