I take back what you have stolen and in your languages I announce I am now nameless.
My true name is a growl.
Margaret Atwood

17 June 2018

the colour Teal

I hate the colour teal - it's infusion reminds me ceaselessly of his eyes -
which I can't adequately place anymore -
other than to suggest blue-ish- grey - maybe - certainly not brown.
Not blue.
Not green or hazel.
Not violet - but oh, yes, violent.
For the worldly wonder of fury and hell -
I'd suggest fire and brimstone, but that would be underestimating sulfur -
and it's acrimonious smell - so no, teal - such an ugly colour -
I associate it with his eyes, and that pseudo golf-shirt -
3 buttons at the v-neck, and soft poly-cotton -
and I wish, in some ways, that it had been cheap -
of such poor quality that the poison of agrimony could have leached into him
and worn him thin, faster, sooner -
not only so that he couldn't or wouldn't hurt me, but you either -
but he endured, and now, this damn shirt remains -
barely frayed at the cuffs or stem line along the collar -
and time and hundreds of washings have hardly faded the colour -
deep, rich teal -
so the shirt lives on, and so does he -
but I hear his mind is muddled and his ways confined
to bed or a wheelchair, but still, in moments,
he is as razor sharp as meaty hands beating bruises into skin,
or wielding a belt that buckled a silver tongue - biting into flesh -
and I can't really recall his face -
or the colour of his eyes,
but I loathe Teal -
and for all that was stolen, taken and ripped away -
I only know of his one name: father.

for: Brendan's weekend challenge @ Toads:  Choking  "Approaching on Father's Day"


  1. The deep pain of having a violent abusive father is felt in this poem. I like the way the aversion to the colour teal, and the description of the shirt, add to the feelings of aversion in this poem. This is the dark side of fatherhood and heaven knows many of us have felt it. You have written it well.

  2. Sounds like something went askew. I believe it to be aging, a lot. I have mixed emotions about my dad. There are things he did, bad things, for which I cannot forgive. My mom and I were the recipients. He did straighten up, very suddenly, especially with Mom. He may have been too ashamed of his prior conduct to say he was sorry, but he sure did mess things up between us.

    1. I think most people have mixed feelings about their parents, realistically speaking. As for the whys? Always a complex set of reasons. As to resolutions? Always variable.
      thanks for sharing your thoughts Jim

  3. Spot-on for the challenge, thanks so much -- This unfaded golf shirt reminded me so much of the gift of Nessus, a guilt which eventually could kill Hercules. Here the guilt is the father's and it burns for generations, generations of poems at least. There is a shade of eye color which ever changes with the light -- hazel is grey and blue and green variously -- my father has/had those eyes -- maybe the color is mythic, reveals the blood of Nessus' shirt which turns to fire. Whatever -- this father is like Saturn, the one who devoured his children (o Goya) to keep His will in place. Our Congress is full of 'em. Teal is such a gentle word -- facade, too often, of the demon's glare. Well done.

    1. Well, that's one version of Hazel. Hazel being the shape-shifting colour it is. My eyes are Hazel - green/brownish with gold. No blue. No grey. But this is neither here nor there. But I like the idea of them being mythic ๐Ÿ˜‚
      Funny how associations paint images - for you, Teal is gentle. For me, it's cold and heartless, and not the "weird" unearthly blue Bjorn references in his comment - that strange translucent blue of ice and glaciers and fjords. That colour fascinates me. But such as it is - that's the nature of life and experiences, right? which is maybe why, in our own ways, we end up writing stories and poems and creating our own tales and myths.

  4. Ouch... this is grim.. and that color teal would be hard to bear... somehow it seems like ice to me. But the meaty hands and the belt tells a story that you cannot ever leave.

    1. thanks Bjorn ~ as I mentioned in my reply to Brendan - colours, like most things, are subjective. The colour you reference as Teal - reminding you of ice - that weird blue? It is referenced as Teal - in some places, but I don't see it as being the real "teal" - never will - but the ice colour is one I happen to love. So, well, it is what it is - and yes, words, they tell the tale, especially when concrete and there is no room other than to read them for their exact meaning.

  5. Ah willow--this is very powerful for me. The dynamic of abuse has many variations--my abuser was oh so kind during the daylight hours, better to me than any of my blood kin, but a demanding, insinuating, wordless tormentor after dark. Here, I feel the man inside the color, the demon in the man, which may be in all of us, but which some cultivate instead of chaining down. I hope you burned the shirt. This is such excellent writing, so full of direct contact with the reader's mind, that I won't trivialize it any further by comment, but wanted you to know I appreciate and relate to every word.

    1. I don't know what happened to the shirt. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if the thing is still kicking around, like the "old man" -
      As for abusers? Well, aren't they just a special lot? Details may differ, but patterns often are universal, to some degree - and unfortunately, for far too many the experiences are too real and unrelenting. I'm glad that my use of colour as device delivered something to the picture. And thanks for stopping in.

  6. So many women I know had crap fathers--here's a searing portrait of one, and couching it in all the teal references to a freaking golf shirt is inspired. I feel fortunate because my own father was a great guy (though my mother was hell on wheels.)

    1. I've always said, anyone can make a baby, but not everyone makes a fit parent. No gender bias implied.
      I had it from all sides - *shrugging* and it now, mostly, means nothing to me. Something about the shit that doesn't kill you makes you stronger?

  7. This is a gut-wrenching and brave poem, Pat. I imagine it was something almost too difficult to write but it seems to come with some expiation for the writer. A validation.

    1. Actually, Kerry, it was easy to write. I feel nothing but distance and erasure when I think on the past - more and more as I get older. And have spent years processing and learning from all of it. But I am appreciative of the fact that I can write about it with impact.
      As for bravery?
      Well, sometimes it baffles me. That word, in relation to - but then, there are other moments, when I just quietly nod my head and move on, carrying it within as a treasured secret - the bravery.


thanks for sharing your thoughts, I greatly appreciate it.