because auburn was the color of my first dog

who sniffed my fingers and licked the gaps 

between my toes;

when my mother locked me outside for two hours,

the wind chilling my bones through a cupcake-covered nightgown,

he gulped down my tears and let me touch his nose.


because auburn was the name of my best friend in kindergarten

who painted paper roses with me,

reds, blues, purples stained on our fingertips;

she helped me differentiate triangles from trapezoids,

curled up next to me during nap time 

on a star-shaped rug.


because auburn hair is my favorite hair

not like the obsidian stretched across my scalp, the same shade 

as my parents and grandparents and everyone else on my family’s pedigree:

i want auburn hair that shines even when the sun’s asleep,

auburn like cherry wood, pumpkin spice

persimmon on a glazed garnet plate.


because, most of all, auburn was the roof of my house back in texas

whose tiles were chipped from hot summer nights;

when i left at age seven, sat in a car to california with palms pressed

to the cold minivan windowpane

i wondered if i would ever miss a roof more—

because under that auburn was all i had ever known.


to me, auburn is color, identity, physicality, home

but to you, a six-letter word.


a grieving girl’s crying log

 Artwork by: Paula Modersohn-Becker