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You brought me sunflowers. Their thick stems, outstretched arms and open faces stood tall —  laughing braggarts in a vase. I cherished their vibrant audacity.

I can no longer defend the sunflower or its yellow outburst. Nor can I defend those years, when my hair, unbound, grazed my back, and the passage of time was marked only by light and dark, the sand on my skin, and how the questions were infinitely more interesting than the answers.

I recall the parchment paper you favored. Its fine layers, pliant and fragile in my hands, lay heavy with your drying acrylics. Colors colliding on paper we could ill afford. My walls, my body, my thoughts, a mural you hung your art upon. I came to hate it. I did.

“What do you see? What does it mean?” you’d persist as you brushed your hair from your eyes. So difficult for things to just be. Of course there was no right answer, but I didn’t know that then.

Sometimes, from a distance, an image did emerge, but up close, it was always chaos.

I cannot look upon a sunflower without thinking of you. Nor can I look upon cobalt, the blue you streaked across our walls; aubergine, the marriage of red and blue; and russet, borne of crushed plums and red grapes, without remembrance.

I crave the beauty of the humble blossom, the dignity of its pale hues, and the comfort found in its simple design. Its unquestioning existence aligns to my own.