The Problem of Describing Color
If I said - remembering in summer,
The cardinal's sudden smudge of red
In the bare gray winter woods -
If I said, red ribbon on the cocked straw hat
Of the girl with pooched-out lips
Dangling a wiry lapdog
In the painting by Renoir -
If I said fire, if I said blood welling from a cut -
Or flecks of poppy in the tar-grass scented summer air
On a wind-struck hillside outside Fano -
If I said, her one red earring tugging at her silky lobe,
If she tells fortunes with a deck of fallen leaves
Until it comes out right -
Rouged nipple, mouth -
(How could you not love a woman
Who cheats at the Tarot?)
Red, I said. Sudden, red.
A Swarm of Dawns,
A Flock of Restless Noons
There's a lot to be written in the Book of Errors.
The elderly redactor is blind, for all practical purposes,
He has no imagination, and field mice have gnawed away
His source text for their nesting. I loved you first, I think,
When you stood in the kitchen sunlight and the lazy motes
Of summer dust while I sliced a nectarine for Moroccan salad
And the seven league boots of your private grief. Maybe
The syntax is a little haywire there. Left to itself,
Wire must act like Paul Klee with a pencil. Hay
Is the Old English word for strike. You strike down
Grass, I guess, when it is moan. Mown. The field mice
Devastated the monastery garden. Maybe because it was summer
And the dusks were full of marsh hawks and the nights were soft
With owls, they couldn't leave the herbs alone: gnawing the roots
Of rosemary, nibbling at sage and oregano and lemon thyme.
It's too bad eglantine isn't an herb, because it's a word
I'd like to use here. Her coloring was a hybrid
Of rubbed amber and the little flare of dawn rose in the kernel
Of an almond. It's a wonder to me that I have fingertips.
The knife was very sharp. The scented rose-orange moons,
Quarter moons, of fruit fell to the cutting board
So neatly it was as if two people lived in separate cities
And walked to their respective bakeries in the rain. Her bakery
Smelled better than his. The sour cloud of yeast from sourdough
Hung in the air like the odor of creation. They both bought
Sliced loaves, they both walked home, they both tripped
In the entry to their separate kitchens, and the spilled slices
Made the exact same pattern on the floor. The nectarines
Smelled like the Book of Luck. There was a little fog
Off the bay at sundown in which the waning moon swam laps.
The Miwoks called it Moon of the Only Credit Card.
I would have given my fingertips to touch your cheekbone,
And I did. That night the old monk knocked off early. He was making it
All up anyway, and he'd had a bit of raisin wine at vespers.