Being red is the color of a white sun where it lingers on an arm. Color of time lost in sparks, of space lost inside dance. Red of walks by the railroad in the flush of youth, while our steps released the squeaks of shoots reaching for the light. Scarlet of sin, crimson of fresh blood, ruby and garnet of the jewel bed, early sunshine, vestiges of the late sun as it turns green and disappears. Be calm. Do not give in to the rabid red throat of age. In a red world, imprint the valentine and blush of romance for the dark. It has come. You will not be this quick-to-redden forever. You will be green again, again and again.
Marvin Bell - 1937-
Bagram, Afghanistan, 2002
The interrogation celebrated spikes and cuffs, the inky blue that invades a blackened eye, the eyeball that bulges like a radish, that incarnadine only blood can create. They asked the young taxi driver questions he could not answer, and they beat his legs until he could no longer kneel on their command. They chained him by the wrists to the ceiling. They may have admired the human form then, stretched out, for the soldiers were also athletes trained to shout in unison and be buddies. By the time his legs had stiffened, a blood clot was already tracing a vein into his heart. They said he was dead when they cut him down, but he was dead the day they arrested him. Are they feeding the prisoners gravel now? To make them skillful orators as they confess? Here stands Demosthenes in the military court, unable to form the words “my country.” What shall we do, we who are at war but are asked to pretend we are not? Do we need another naive apologist to crown us with clichés that would turn the grass brown above a grave? They called the carcass Mr. Dilawar. They believed he was innocent. Their orders were to step on the necks of the prisoners, to break their will, to make them say something in a sleep-deprived delirium of fractures, rising to the occasion, or, like Mr. Dilawar, leaving his few possessions and his body.