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Naming the Paints

Rebecca Loudon

In the broken car
on the road between Cairo and Alexandria
paint in hair     tongue              lungs
I twisted the brush to a fine point in my mouth
painted the air green/wadj
        malachite calcium copper

I repeated each word
a primer     until I got it right
(I never got it right)
you found my diary      read the apology
the blotches on my skin red/desher
        cornelian ochre iron

red hair red mouth red eyes the narrow road
(Egyptian men depicted with red skin)
the Opening of the Mouth ceremony
a barque mirage
dust rimming your lips white/hedj
        chalk gypsum

I couldn't stop weeping
or coughing
the car broke down 7 times
black/kem rubber stink
        soot charcoal burnt animal bones

I squatted in the dirt     traced a map
(your fable that brown pigment was made
from ground-up mummies that I ate,
chewing on the yellow/khenet bristles)
        arsenic trisulphide

how brilliant you felt when the engine kicked over
and the bells
rang up and down your sides

Rebecca Loudon

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