Colors: Take, Took, Taken

Natalie Padilla Young | Poetry

A question of two possibilities: How much
will it take?


The assignment: Draw yourself doing something.
I crayoned me outside playing

on the sidewalk. It was the purple hair
teacher couldn’t take, though I was only five. Even at five

bright fiction was better than (and overtaken
by) brown realism. Mrs. Basset made me color over

the original—didn’t care about the liberty
I took with curls, though my hair hung stick straight.


How much does one need to give
for this to work?


How much must be removed
before the something is satisfied?


Blood-sucking flies took so much
the zebra adapted, developed stripes. It’s hard to take in:

the first, cousin of the horse, showed up not-so-suddenly
in stark black and white; those tiny, relentless pests

of more concern than large cats with claws. Camouflage distracts
rather than hides—the flies remain, not taking

nearly as much.