The Red Napkin

Cora Thomas
~ for k.i. ~

I fold
the faded red
napkin and quickly walk back into the kitchen

bright
red cartoon
hair—

abrupt

wave
of an image

but
unmistakable—

Ariel 
from The 
Little Mermaid 

Not 
just Ariel though—something else was there. 

the 
way my cousin used 
to draw her like she alone  

had summoned the Ocean 
Princess from the Deep Sea.

She 
could put those 
artists at Disney to shame. 

Did 
you trace them? I 
asked 

my 
young mind becoming 
curious, 

No, she confidently 
replied with a slight smile. 


remember the smooth 
pine desk my uncle gave her 

the 
colored pencils 
she carefully chose.
red 

hair 
curving down Ariel’s shoulders 
violet 

sea shells

strategically 
positioned I learned only when I got older.
I
stare at the red
napkin that I have washed and put away dozens of times in
this same drawer—

stunned. 

If I 
could ask Ariel 
to set out on her next watery adventure and

bring
back my cousin    


would. 

After 
a long search, 
both of them side-by-side would rush to the sparkling 
surface of the water and 
step onto land like it was the first time, but my 
imagination gets away from me 
sometimes.

I
wonder where those
drawings are now 

I want 
to imagine they 
are neatly stacked in a drawer somewhere— 

newly 
sharpened pencils lined up beside them 

Their 
woody scent faintly 
fills the room   

Her 
warm signature 
splashed 

in the 
bottom right 
corner 

but, 
they are lost 

like 
she has become

bleeding back into the 
hue 

of 
this red 
napkin.  

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