We’re driving home from Home Depot, Bryan at the wheel, our three kids singing along to the radio in the back seat. It is dust. But not the normal dusk that slips by unnoticed, only the slightest mark of it to punctuate the day and night. This is the dusk that lingers in your mouth, seductive, like the sound of its letters pulled out and held in the hollow behind your teeth. We drive past Dottie’s miniature golf course and see that the windmill is finally working, the newly painted red spokes spinning again. We pass the cemetery and turn onto Imperial Street. But it isn’t until we pass over the highway, when the houses and trees no longer block my view to the west and expose the huge expanse of the Salt Lake Valley that leads up to the Oquirrh Mountains that I catch sight of the sky.
The color catches me off guard and makes me call out, a tiny sound, not even a word. I’ve never seen this color before, not in all my years of art school, not in any tube of Windsor and Newton or in any museum, not even on the canvases of Rothko or Diebenkorn, my heroes. This color is not blue. This color is not green. It’s not turquoise or cerulean, not cobalt, not phthalo, not ultramarine. It isn’t one color at all, but the space between and behind, glaze upon glaze, the air between us and the universe, deep and inviting. I roll down my window and breathe because the color has a smell: the warm day cooling, grass and road. Sprinklers. But it isn’t the smell of summer. Can’t confuse it with that.
At the intersection, the bright red of the stoplight glows suspended in the sky, so much richer against this unexpected backdrop. Behind it, the telephone poles are cut from black so deep that they lose their form and become flat, their wires only thin black lines across the sky. The trees silhouetted against this color are dark, but not cavernous. They are simply honoring this other color, not competing, not dominating, just framing, grounding it to our place.
I can’t recreate this color, can hardly believe it, but I’m suddenly certain that this is the color of eternity, and although I can’t hold it, it fills me. This color. It fills me. And it doesn’t just fill this small capsule of a body, my thin wrists, my generous thighs, slightly stubby toes; it settles deep into my chest and expands, draws me out towards the sky itself, makes me a part of it, my upturned face. I breathe.