I looked up from my buzzing hands painted white—deciding whether to have a beer or walk or write, for not being able to keep still, for the sun and heat and traffic crackling—at an absolutely red bird sitting on the fence post. A paint red bird the shape of a blue jay: a cardinal. I’d never seen one. Painted with me. I have been painted every color and will continue to be painted, despite any resistance to it. I need to be awake for absolute red and new birds. I vow to stay awake. I won’t be washed into a dull and complacent thing.

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