Iowa Writes

KIM BLUTH
Rainbow Canvas


Late one summer day in Iowa City, I weaved my way from the Student Union to my hotel. A heavy haze of heat and humidity covered the campus and surrounded me like a cocoon, dampening and draining all color, sound, light, and depth, until I uncovered its hidden allure.

Amongst the granite gray buildings that melted into the background of the steely sky, I spotted the shirtless young man in black shorts. His well-browned skin, glistening in the humid thick air, matched his well-etched physique. Crossing the black pavement not too far away from me, he was obviously deep into a vigorous run that I could tell was something he does every day. I regretted my distance from him but was grateful for my opaque sunglasses giving me the ability to watch at my discretion without him knowing. He didn't see me, and if he did he didn't care. For just an instant, I wished to turn back the clock twenty years so I could be the co-ed that he might have noticed.

Late one summer day in Iowa City, I weaved my way from the Student Union to my hotel. A heavy haze of heat and humidity covered the campus and surrounded me like a cocoon, dampening and draining all color, sound, light, and depth, until I uncovered its hidden allure.

Amongst the granite gray buildings that melted into the background of the steely sky, I spotted the shirtless young man in black shorts. His well-browned skin, glistening in the humid thick air, matched his well-etched physique. Crossing the black pavement not too far away from me, he was obviously deep into a vigorous run that I could tell was something he does every day. I regretted my distance from him but was grateful for my opaque sunglasses giving me the ability to watch at my discretion without him knowing. He didn't see me, and if he did he didn't care. For just an instant, I wished to turn back the clock twenty years so I could be the co-ed that he might have noticed.

Back at my hotel, I rode up in the elevator with a young family, the youngest a 16-month old boy just getting comfortable with his legs unstable and mobile underneath him, wearing navy blue bib overalls with a colorful plaid shirt and brown moccasins on sockless feet. He was obviously fascinated with watching himself in the mirror. His mom mentioned something about having been cooped up in a room all day. I was not surprised when he took off, the minute the doors opened, into the foyer with nary a look behind. If he could talk, he would have responded to his mother "...and I will never be contained again." I felt old and burdened as I retired to my room.

I headed down to the Plaza for dinner. Outside the doors of my hotel, I paused to watch a group of children frolicking in a ground fountain. The main draw for them was the rapid shots of water coming from barely visible holes in the pavement. All that mattered to them was the water being cold and them playing together. Chasing, running, jumping. The youngest wore saggy bright blue swim trunks, ill-fitted like they might have once belonged to his big brother. A white water diaper sagged underneath the sagging of the suit. It could have been the first time he had ever seen a fountain like this. He was just as happy watching the water, waiting for it to careen into the air, as playing in it. I wanted to shed my shell of adult clothes and be a child with them. Too many adult reasons why I didn't.

Further on, I passed by a young couple studying under a weathered gazebo. Their open books and white pages of notebooks were strewn over the entire surface of the table along with the unmistakable green logo of two Starbucks coffee cups. Deep in conversation over some pressing college student topic that would probably overwhelm me now, the whirl of color all around was invisible to them because they had created their own. I saw other sights, like punk girl in black carrying a lightly and brightly swathed baby and a mountain bearded man in a red pickup. It was this diversity amongst the people and the transition from shining afternoon brightness to the faltering light of the impending evening that freed me from my initial cocoon. It wasn't so grey and stifling after all.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


KIM BLUTH

Kim Bluth is an American writer currently living in The Netherlands. She attended the Iowa Summer Writing Festival last summer. "My writing became a true passion there and then," she says.

This page was first displayed
on July 01, 2006

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