‘Colors of the Sky’ and other poems
By: Stephen Grant
COLORS OF THE SKY
Let’s look at the sky, its corners and depth, upside down
and sideways. Then let’s describe its colour. Blue seems
too obvious and doesn’t tell us much, a tautology if ever were.
Red adds nothing, however hued, even in the morning when
sailors take warning—it’s blue and grey that matter.
Robin’s egg blue seems too definite and comes from a darker palette.
The task is pleasantly aggravating, almost Sisyphean,
as if trying to capture mist in a bottle or dew in a jar,
or asking fireflies to hold their light, especially in June.
Cyan might be closer except it has shades of green,
while I’m seeing more of a grey, not a gunmetal grey,
not a petulant grey, but a soft grey, maybe a dove grey.
It falls, perhaps, somewhere between a Klein blue and a Johns grey,
between a cool blue and slate grey, all the while
a confounding, dazzling, joyous, knowing, maddening,
watchful cornflower blue-grey. Does that cut it?
A better descriptor may be found, though, on the prismatic spectrum,
somewhere between azure and argent, depending on mood,
possibly affected (or even created) by atmospheric pressure,
like the airiness of a Rothko mauve, one block shimmering atop another.
Still, it’s altogether hopeless, try, as I might,
to capture in opaque language, the ever-changing,
sun-drenched hue of your radiant eyes.
No doubt failing, but at least failing lovingly—
a life’s quest.
Asleep on a park bench surrounded by the unruly hordes, I sense the
blossoms dropping onto my chest and shoulders and dream of green tea leaves
and purple açai berries, while an errant troubairitz strums Joni Mitchell tunes.
When I wake to find you beside me, I leave chance unattended just as the almanac
predicted. My dreams were acorns gathered by puckish squirrels and buried for the
winter in the hollow across the stream. I hear a plaintive wail, so soft it’s almost
noiseless, like ants crawling up a blade of grass, susurrus in a modest register. There’s
no arguing with the rhubarb and no direction home in the face of life’s passing lanes,
all without a word of a warning, a word of a lie. Exile comes afoot after I’ve been
made by the night watchman. He’s heard the cadence marching with you. I search
in vain for secret meaning, trying on each syllable for size, but bringing me no closer
to the universal truth. Elegies are made for this. Still, there is no harm in asking. Or
taking. Suitcases full of jargon, the space is replete with a list of unfettered possibilities,
broad in scope, narrow in execution. Night falls to the ground like a curtain of black
demise. It bodes no whisper, only the rustle of foreign skirts, shameless in their skank.
Rhythmic words dapple the fields, daring us to be more solid, more alive. Cherry lips
blow smoke rings to nowhere and dancers litter the floor, seen only by the splendid
Siberian cat waiting impatiently for her dinner by the swinging kitchen door. Airy
Thoughts crample my hope of redemption, sussing out the bon mot, the one to lift
the spirit skyward and let Orion take his best shot. There’s no truck for the faint
of heart, this mug has lost his game.
IN MEDIA RES
We are in the middle of things, in media res if Latin were still a lingua franca.
But it isn’t, and we are meant to persevere. The past has not yet turned blue,
and the future bodes ever opaque. Turn the corner and swerve from left to right.
Or vice versa. We will end in the same place in the same way, without being
arbitrary or morbid about it, maybe just capricious. The random is all we have
reason to know, like the Creation of Adam from any vantage point. On
leaving the Sistine Chapel empty-minded, empty-hearted, the aesthetic lost
in the fetid space, so many eyes troubling the shimmering air, the internal
turbulence ensnared in a skein of dolor and pain. Yet, life’s beacon offers
hope and restoration. The trick is accepting the succor when it’s offered,
to drink it in as a lamb the ewe’s milk. Let the evangelists have their way.
We’re still here amid a colorful human aviary, ensconced in a mystical rainforest.
It offers no escape but to atone for things of no consequence we failed to do
or things of no meaning we only dreamt of doing. It is a surefire recipe for
redemption, if that matters, given the invidious choices at large in the gloaming.
A mug’s game is still a game. It only has meaning when it means something,
while I am paralyzed with nervosité, fraught with fright, but still anticipating
the sun rising again tomorrow.