Baltimore in Scarlet

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.

 . 

Yesterday,

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-

No.

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.

Yesterday,

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.

Processing

I start playing Elevate,

specifically the “Processing” game,

where words fall ever faster from the sky

and you try to train your brain to keep up.

Across from me, a man,

doubled over, opens his hand.

Pills of every color lie nestled within.

As if in a stupor, he nudges them,

gently, with his forefinger.

Then, with slow and deliberate movements,

he picks up a fallen white capsule.

Placing it amongst its brethren,

he tightens his fist around the pills once more,

bringing them close to his chest.

His head sags down,

mouth half-agape.

Suddenly, the train bursts

into afternoon sunlight

as we cross a bridge,

the Charles sparkling below.

I look at my hand,

my phone still reads

“Processing.”