You Cannot See the Color of Our Despair

Know that you are not the color of perfection. You are the color of hydrogen and oxygen and war and marriage and fast food and sadness, and because we know your colors, we know what you are and what you are not.

We are bigger, and so are our telescopes. You would not understand the colors we see. O, we share the spectacle of boron captured in glass, so you think we are the same despite the darkness between us. When you catch our light, you think it shines for you. It’s such an ugly color, your certainty, and when our children get telescopes for their birthdays, when they set them up in backyards, when they look into the sky, they look away from you. They chart the blackest part of the night because that is where the universe is taking us.

Find solace in your inability to see the color of your future. You should be happy with the colors you have. We know the number of colors in your largest crayon box because in our telescopes your 3rd graders are Burnt Sienna. One day soon, you’ll have crayon boxes bigger than your moon, and when you draw a starry night, you will use the color for dispiriting knowledge.

Only then will you know us true. You will travel so far to find us, but we will see the shade of you coming. When you get here, do not be surprised that we are gone. We have long known what you are and are glad this universe is forever pushing us apart.

Adam Peterson is the co-editor of The Cupboard, a quarterly prose chapbook series. His series of short-shorts, My Untimely Death, is available from Subito Press, and his fiction can be found in Alaska Quarterly Review, Cincinnati Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere.