in the summer of 2007, Hayley Williams of the pop punk group Paramore dyed her hair yellow (not blonde) for the annual Vans Warped Tour. i found the choice strange, given that Williams’ signature since the inception of the band in Franklin, Tennessee had been layer upon sharply chopped layer of hair poisoned an unnaturally vivid shade of red. think melted Jolly Ranchers, stage blood, the color your eyelids turn when you’re lying on the beach and squinting through the sun. thirteen years old and by necessity devoted to the daily ritual of going unnoticed, i coveted such a semi-permanent declaration of power. why would you ever give it up?

once i stopped trying, my hair turned auburn on its own accord. the book i’m reading now, the book that has me flummoxed, is called Recodings and it’s by Hal Foster. the hue of the front cover is quite close to Hayley’s yellow, this yellow, which a negligible amount of research told me is called “fuel.” i think of accelerating off a steep cliff.

yellow, a primary color, red’s sister but not a twin, is a freshly earned bruise. yellow gushes from a wound. yellow’s off, wrong, rancid. yellow is a fen-dweller lacking in guts. yellow’s what you’re wearing when you want to dress in gold.

Helen Holmes is a writer for hire.