I know what colour cardinal is. I know it well. It is nearly the colour of the sideboard where we used to keep the dishes. We needed a lot of dishes. I was the middle one of eleven children, and we kept my five orphaned cousins too. Cardinal is nearly the colour of the nails that held our old shed together. The shed fell down ten years ago. But I know the colour.
I know cardinal. I went sailing one day, and over the waters found my island, my sweet island. My Red, I called it. Now I know better.
I visited this island some years ago for the last time. But my punt drifted and I was marooned. At least it was peaceful. Peace was one thing you could not get in our house.
I sat in the fresh shade of the apple tree on My Red, and I ate my red apples for three days. A tiny trickle you could not call a brook with any truth danced along by the roots of my tree, feeding it and keeping me. There was a spring just under the rose bush where great red roses bloomed into life and their joyous scent reached me under the tree, and I felt safe and unwatched for perhaps the first time ever.
But after those three blissful days of blissful wish and watch, I felt lonely. Would I ever reach my family again? I climbed my apple tree. Could I see land from here? Could I see my punt teasing me in the currents?
But my apple tree was not strong, though I not heavy, and my branch snapped. I was on the floor, face down, in my dust. Two years alone on the dust, with the ants and the spiders for company, till the fisherman found me. The apples and the spring kept me safe. The dust kept me sane. And that was the cardinal. The dust. My dust. My cardinal. Not quite wooden furniture. Not quite rusted iron. My cardinal was my dust.
The next colour is ash.