yellow – by Nikaela Peters

The first of a series of Colour Studies. Words and images by inspiring Nikaela Marie



Yellow: The boy in the backseat had a mango popsicle for a short amount of time.  Before he consumed it he was clean and excited.  He ate it fast, biting around the stick.  Now there is thick juice on his face and his shirt and the car seat buckles.  If it was red juice, the scene would look macabre. (A word his dad taught him and a surprisingly useful addition to his four-year-old vocabulary).  As it is, it just looks silly, like he peeled a real mango with only his teeth.  He mumbles something and I look in the rearview mirror and ask “What?” He holds up the stained stick:  “Stripped to the bone in seconds.”  He grins.


He says this again, finishing his corn-on-the-cob the next day at the campsite.  Carnivorous vegetable eating.  “Stripped to the bone in seconds.”  Yellow husks like strewn skin.  Easy prey.


Yellow:  As a verb, it is depressing.  Teeth.  Leaves.  The armpits of dress shirts.  The fingernails of elderly people.  The newspaper.


Yellow:  A painting of a circus in the Montreal Museum of Fine Art.  The ground is gold and the clowns look lonely.  The crowd isn’t painted, but the bright light where they would be vibrates so you know they are there and can imagine their sound.  A yellow noise.  The blurb on the wall next to the painting says the artist painted circus scenes all his life.  I wonder about what that would feel like – a life preoccupied with the circus.  I read about clowns.  I read about how traditionally their role is to manifest what is there but not expressed, in their audience.  So a sad clown is sad because he reads hidden sadness in his spectators, and a wacky clown is acting out our dormant, but very real, folly.  The clown says: “You think you’re logical and I’m crazy.  You think you’re the one with the strong grip on reality.   But I only reveal what is present in you. The reason I make you uncomfortable is my illogic is yours.”


Yellow: Rain boots.  Legal paper.  Egg Yokes.  Lemons.


Yellow: The two year old’s pajamas.  His soft morning self.  The tiny light catching hairs on his neck and cheeks.  He asks for a lemon in his water.  He considers himself grown up.  He puts his tin mug on the arm of the couch.  He takes a book into his lap.   His lips are fat and parted.  I think of cheese when he kisses me: how instinctual the craving of certain things gone bad: beer, cheese and my kid’s morning breath.  His sweaty head.


Yellow:  The window in a second painting at the art gallery.  The painting is called Domestic Scene and is dark save for the window.  A woman looking out stands in the shadows.  A child is beside her on the floor, raging.  His face is crumpled and hands in fists.  There is another child in a tall and awkward wooden highchair and a third with a blank inward look sitting at a big table.  There is mess and food in varying stages of preparation and consumption.   The painting conjures up the weariness of parenthood, the feeling of being the lone adult amongst children.  Domestic Scene reminds me of my very strange position as mother of my children.  Job description:  Feed offspring.  Observe rages.  Stand by.  Look out the window.


Yellow: Maybe the verb isn’t all depressing.  Bananas.  The morning.  Fire.  A healing post-purple bruise. 


Yellow:  The pile of leaves my children are playing in.  Their play is all sorts: loud, wobbly, careful, clumsy.  Violent and tender.  The leaves were a mess I cleaned up along with the summer’s scattered popsicle sticks (a pile of bones). Now they are a mattress and a blanket and play dough.  The boys are learning what the laws of relationship are.  They know what forgiveness is and have forgotten yesterday’s offences.  The four-year-old says “Hear me mumma!” and howls.  The two-year-old says “Look me mumma!” and jumps.  I look up from my raking and watch them and hear them and acknowledge their clown-ness.   They reveal my hidden self; act out my desires.  Only their desire doesn’t stay desire.  It incarnates.  One steals leaves from the other’s hands.  One pushes the other into the leaves.  They grab one another and laugh.  Holding on.


Thank you Nikaela