Cell Fragments
a reflection in color by Jill Darling


First, choose a word…paper, word, lipstick…the sky this morning breaking through before new fall
light, before snow… tile, face, sound…books piled around, the Marx readers are always red. Red.
Like Communism. Or Bricks. Or Christmas. Fire engine red. Infra-red. True-red. Apple Red. Red
Cross. Red Herring. Pirates. Stop.


The record of a language painted, textured, smeared in the history of presence, forgotten or pushed
aside, its pages crumbling, turning to ash and flame. Can you remember this moment already
happening, again?


European revolutionaries in 1848 adopt their color, wave red flags. Later it becomes the color for
Communism in Russia, China, it spreads around the world. Then fear spreads around the world, a
color becomes derogatory. Commies painted red.


“Reach out and sneer: Dem radicals speak to the Red States” (The Register)

“After reading this article, it occurs to me that Blue America sees Red America the same way Red
America sees Iraq: A basically backward place full of nice people unable to destroy their own tyrants
without our enlightened help. Also, the fact that they are unable to do this imperils our safety as
much as it imperils their own. Perhaps this is why we are making no headway in either place…

Also, both places are dusty and full of oil.” (punningpundit.com)


The red dragon on the flag of Wales. The country motto: Wales Forever. Welsh band Super Furry
Animals sing “It’s not the end of the world / why?”


And Redcoats. Marching through the woods. Not so camouflaged. Or the Red Badge of Courage.
Stay and fight, or run away, the color of blood, and war. Or the courage of not war, other-than-war,
the red badge of a future that does something different from history.

Is the war real or did I dream it? Did I run away or am I dead? Have I returned or am I somewhere
else altogether?


Sunday, March 11. Two people (women) try to drive across some rail road tracks and don’t make it.
The get around one train and collide with another. They die. Trains are held up for hours. Our 8pm
train is cancelled. Getting hit by a train doesn’t get you where you are trying to go any faster. Two
teens trying a challenge? Two drunk women not paying attention? Two people with music playing
too loud to hear the second train? What about the flashing red lights, the white and red striped arm
that you have to drive around strategically if you are trying to beat the train. Two mothers no longer
waiting for two someones to come back home.


Blood no longer looks like blood when the bodies from which it falls are mutilated and destroyed so


“Two Petaluma store employees and a shopping center customer were beaten by reputed gang
members, apparently for wearing red clothing, police said Tuesday.”

“Not all the kids wearing red clothing are committing crimes,” Captain O’Rourke said.

“Due to its extreme nature, wearing red clothing during a negotiation or confrontation is never the best choice.”

“In the US wearing red clothing is promoted by some groups to symbolize support for or
opposition against the Iraq war, or to spread awareness about heart disease. See: Red Friday.”


The set sun sends back rays reflected against the sky the last moment of a spring day constructed out
of time.


Red and yellow hammer and sickle logo tee: $16.95 on merch-bot.com. “The logo…makes a bold
statement or no statement at all, depending on the attitude of you, the wearer. This is a must for the
back of every angry youth on the planet.” (note: the “logo” is on the front of the shirt, but I guess
angry youths across the world can wear this shirt “on their backs.”)


To invoke or embody. To call a color your own. The smell of dry grass as the summer wears on and
ice cream trucks slow their rounds through streets ghostly without the sound of children. Different
trucks, in different shades of cool and refreshing. I watch from the porch. Linger. Wonder how I got
back to this place after so many years away. My red badge of memory. Having circled back and
around into the second half of the story. Courage or as Modest Mouse asks, are you dead or are you


A wedding in India.
Chinese New Year.
A Hmong funeral.


She said she has emotional memory. She sees a scene from her childhood and knows, feels exactly
how she felt at that moment, watching from the window, for example, the look of the street below.
He says he remembers details. Every number of every player’s baseball card from the collection he
had as a kid. I remember only bits and pieces of images, some of which seem to be in my mind
because I saw them in photographs. Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with the
memory part of my brain. According to my mental record, I couldn’t have had much of a childhood.
But on the contrary, it was full of events and emotion. I can at the moment recall the huge red sun
dropping in the sky in summer when we rode in the boat across the lake, returning from an
impromptu evening picnic on the small island in Muscamoot bay. Always that huge sun seeming to
stand still in our western vision, keeping the evening sky lit and timeless.


A moment, spatial, layered, a spot of time etched perfectly into this immediate suggestion that
generic history is peppered with particular drops of

Jill Darling has two poetry collections: Solve For (BlazeVOX, ebooks) and begin with may: a series of moments (Finishing Line Press) and a collaborative chapbook with poets Laura Wetherington and Hannah Ensor forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. She’s also had poems and essays published in/NORAufgabe580 SplitQuarter After EightPhoebefactorialHorse Less Review, and some fiction pieces are forthcoming in Denver Quarterly. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Colorado State and a Ph.D. in Twentieth Century American Literature and Culture from Wayne State. She teaches at Eastern Michigan University and University of Michigan-Dearborn.