Mary is the only one who can wear that blue

It’s not-quite aquamarine, not-quite pastel, not a jewel tone and also not an earth tone. It’s the tint of the firmament. You don’t find it very often on the racks. If you find it, it’s back on the clearance rack. It’s probably polyester. You notice it like you notice the glare off a single piece of glass on a dry brown beach.

That color might look good on you but the only person who can wear it is Mary. It works on her like it could never work for you, even if you had the same good skin and the same downcast eyes. That blue she wears, it makes her particular forehead glow. It makes her peachier than peach and smoother than smooth. It makes all the colors around her – the brown of the snake, the gold of her sandals, the pale dead body of her son – anything at all next to that blue, it works. Next to that blue, she can mix metals. She can accessorize with whatever she wants. That blue makes the Virgin Mary ready for anything.

My friend Roxanne is always looking for the perfect denim skirt. I understand what she means about it, because in any season, a denim skirt says you’re ready for cocktails — or loading the dishwasher. You’re ready to go for a walk — or make decisions. You’re flexible, but you have standards and this is what you’re wearing. It’s a worthy quest.

I believe Roxanne is in love with her son, who is living at home while he gets an associate’s degree but anybody can tell he’s going to move on after that. Anybody can see that while her son still has the blonde hair Roxanne gave him at birth, his jaw is square and that has nothing to do with her. Anybody can tell that the day her son leaves, it’s going to kill Roxanne.

I understand Roxanne because my son’s shoulders have recently become broader and sharper than I expected. He sleeps so late now on weekends. He has to lie diagonal on his bed. It would be ridiculous to pull him onto my lap when he wakes up, but I would. If it were necessary, I would. His eyes are so green and his jokes are so very much like mine. I have no idea what to wear on the day he walks away.

Mary’s forehead is smoother than smooth. Her eyelids are so sure, carved so low and rounded across her face. In some statues Mary’s skin and the fabric and the body of her dead boy are cast in blended marble, so everything is white like bone but you would swear you see the blue. The tint of the firmament.

You can try to dress that way. You can go into your son’s room on a Saturday and drag him into your lap, blankets and everything. You can carve your eyelids into waves that say, it’s ok, it’s ok, no matter what happens, I’ve got all this for you and my lap is wide. You can hold your hand with the palm facing out, just like that, as graceful as the last light touch on something dead and almost gone, a plume, a wail.

Go ahead and shop for it. Seek it where Roxanne finds her perfect denim skirt. Go where the racks hold oceans and oceans of silky things in almost-aquamarine, the tint of the firmament. That color. Her color. Bring it home it and bunch it in your lap, pray over it, shove a bloom of fabric up next to where the spear went in. Stuff and pray and pose all you want. Mary is Mary. That color is her color. Everybody knows you can never wear that blue.

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