The Woman Loved Gray
The woman loved gray
Gray sweaters, slacks, a gray T-shirt, camisole, skirt
Charcoal, pepper, taupe, all the hues of her wardrobe
Cold as metal.
Caught in slick winds of a rainy day, rinsed
In gray clouds, no more awe than this
Twisting inside her, this gray vortex
Sucking juice from all colors.
She didn’t see it.
Gray, she said, was the color of truth,
Prison-sweat, the milk of
Tibetan nuns left for years in tiny cells;
Gray was the color skin turned
After torture; the web of scars
And spider strings tying
All of this together: land mines
Must be gray, and drones
And the steel displays of shredded
Vehicles burst in smoke thickened
With metal shards and bone.
Some days she would spell her world with an “a”;
Harmonium sounds, the inhalation of all siphoned
In a syllable, outbreath bubbling from molten lips
Quivering: from this the earth was shaken. If she
Saw beauty it was in dappled slate, zinc, gray
And stillborn as a spit-up pearl.
Some days she would be “e” grey; the letter
Of inquisition and hope sorrowed as
Industrial waste lay in pilings and
All the waters shone naptha-leaden
Under shivers of grey oil.
She was wise, she knew
The words of the bible or qu’ran or
Kabballah were made of ash,
Cindered as they beat
Dove gray wings against the dull
That this was unspeakable,
She swallowed gun-gray bullets,
Choked on slivers of children
Their haunted eyes
gray pebbles, their hunger
fading them like the old photos
she dusted, then put away.
A Thousand Skins of the Dancing Gods
Sad shadows flutter as fluorescent lights dim and the huge room darkens at the end of the day, like a lid put on top of still-full can. The clothes hang disembodied, limp, colors ebbed by graying, a parking lot for polyester. Someone lingers at the doorway, glances back: was there a ripple, a soft clang of hangers moving under no one’s fingers, a twang of chemical strands begging to be plucked? Silly: the door slams shut.
Silence squishy as a dead jellyfish begins to jiggle. There’s a soft beat, muffled as cloth bags on fingertips tap, tentative against the fiberboards. Then faster, gathering energy quick as a twister in the hot unsettled air, they start to snap. At first altogether, keeping time true as a metronome, nazi gloves in their black oblivion, but then a few mittens break ranks, fleecy Peruvian immigrants, syncopate astounding thunder-claps, a rising storm.
The heels of boots thud thick rubber on linoleum as the sneakers gal-lop glop glop revving up for the race and stilletto heels click impatient staccato, but the sandals wallow on the carpet as if it was water.
The pants can’t stop, heavy canvas and denim swaying and sliding and kicking free, stampeding stumps in an elephantine herd. No delicacy for these raving shadows, brown and gray and black in a morbid ebb capped with deep blue vanishing in the undertow, a vortex sucking them then blowing back, ghost hollows in the woven tubes.
Shirts lift empty cuffs to faceless brows, begin to spin in rainbow swirl. Colors created: lapis jade coral coal pewter putty moonlight sesame honey coriander cream eucalyptus cypress cirrus glacier ice ozone, synthetics shrieking their names. In the low light the colors shimmer, blown like vapors across new-born stars.
Bras and lacy underwear chafe against boxers and briefs, muscle tanks and T’s as a hot wind shakes them with the sounds of ripping and tearing in dry lust aching for a liquid squirt, when the young girls erupt from an ageless wound. Pink pink pink spews from their corner, labial and evocative innocence spilling in a textile tide.
Through the ruckus a quiet rub, pastel veil sighing with the inbreath and the outbreath, reaching stretching holding the pose, as disembodied yogis of leotards and stretchable shorts lead the way in shivanasa. A shudder ripples through the mob, and then surrender, retreating to fixtures and hangers and shelves awaiting the touch of flesh and forgetting, as if this were the only way to be free.
Zoe Krasney writes poetry for the deepest caverns of the heart, exploring the hidden places. She works at REI, has a passion for the outdoors and environmental issues. And she is writing the great American screenplay.