Some may say
a responsible parent should not agree
to buy black paint

for a teenage daughter’s bedroom.
I know: depression, anxiety, one in five. Yes
that scares me to my marrow

And yet, she asked and sketched
and assembled a palette: a mood board
(is that what it’s called?). She’s pictured
a giant white dream catcher
webbed against jet black
with walls of charcoal on either side.

When we finally get to Bunnings
she chooses without hesitation: Black Ace.
It’s the shade of grey
that takes her a few minutes longer
to select.

For two days, we tape and cut
in, we sigh and she plays her music loud
and sings. She chats in spurts
and we bicker briefly on day three
until her boyfriend (he joined us partway)
invites us

to agree to disagree. For the rest of her days
(may they be long and joyful)
I’d rather
she paints her sanctuaries
in any darn shade she likes. I’d rather
she scratches her name into a skirting board

than pin herself to someone else’s frame
posing silent with a single rose
counting the minutes until her elbow goes numb
while the Artist Unknown
paints a portrait for perpetuity,
blending her cocoa hair
into his (?) coal black canvas.

– Naomi Byrnes

(response to: Interior)