I have synesthesia.
But, instead of seeing sound
or hearing color
-which results from cross-talk between
auditory and visual neurons-
…I see pain.
Through some accidental quirk of nature,
my right supramarginal gyrus,
the empathy “center” of the human brain,
has strong connections to my visual cortex.
When someone is in pain,
I see waves of iridescent crimson
radiating from the person.
When I was a boy,
a friend of mine fell off his bike,
and skinned his knee.
I tried to clean up the blood,
but it kept flowing,
in wave after sanguine wave.
It wasn’t until later,
at the neurologist,
I realized I was seeing more than the physical wound,
but the emotional trauma as well.
I walked through Baltimore.
I could barely see through the crimson haze.
Emanating from the chests
of those who marched
was a dull red, pulsing tired.
This hurt was not the sharp scarlet
of intense immediate pain-
This suffering ached ruby from years of being held inside.
This pain turned the air florid with anguish,
and suffused the very streets with vermillion.
I walked through a city in agony.
When I came home
and saw the riots on the news
(which I saw none of in the 10,000 strong protest downtown)
I saw the white pundits,
on their alabaster thrones,
cool and emerald in their calmness,
in their analgesic world,
piously decrying the protestors-
citing damage to nerveless properties.
I wish I could show them Baltimore
through my eyes,
point out the rubies of torment in their hearts,
the aching ruddy hue painting the city.
I wish they could see all the shades of red
I see, when I look at Baltimore.