I can draw a picture. The type you draw in kindergarten, then continue on until either you’ve honed the craft or given up altogether.

It starts blank, a void of white. Like a child, I work my way from the bottom up. First is grass, but in this case there is no grass. In its place is dust and dirt and stone and pavement. The colors fade and blend blandly in comparison to the green that could have been. But there is no green in this picture.

Since there’s no grass, I can’t draw ill-proportioned flowers, complete with bright yellow centers. There are no flowers. There are brambles and thorns and more rocks, but there is nothing particularly lush about this scene.

Amid the flower-less scape of dust, there isn’t the focal point tree to take up most of the page. There’s no thick trunk with a prominent hole in the center or cotton candy foliage. If there are trees, I don’t see them. I see date groves across the asphalt highway, but they aren’t pastoral. The sweetest orchard looms ominous because it isn’t mine. It isn’t ours. With my back facing the dates, trucks speed by. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. White! Yellow. Green! Yellow. White. White. My heart races, unsure if I fear the dates or the white! and green! or the sun.

I can draw the sun. I won’t place it in the corner of the page, rays stretching down and black shades shielding it from itself. The sun is everywhere. A steady reminder of the lack of green grass and big tree. It’s heavy, all-consuming, and present even when it breaks during the few hours of night. But it’s not in the corner. Maybe it’s in the center, where the big tree should be, its tentacles touching the bottom, top, side, and side of the picture.

Up is the sky. The shape remains a thin strip, skimming just above. The sky isn’t blue. It’s pink—not as a creative liberty, just as a selective memory to capture its loveliest form. When the sky casts pink, it glows over everything, turning the dull into beautiful at the last moments of day. Pink dust and thorns and concrete. It almost makes up for the sun’s pervasiveness. The pink completes the picture.

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