Colors

Eclipse (1968)

G. Guss

With quiet eyes I now look back to England.
There, a lumpy schoolgirl at the age of ten,
I remember seeing colors . . .

Purple in our postman's nose in January
And purple in the onions strung up high;
And green across the Hampstead Heath or parrots' backs
(Ill-tempered birds in the London Zoo).

I remember picnicking in yellow fields
Where buttercups grew taller than the grass,
And all the black there was
Was in the black of patent leather shoes and India ink.

But blue was always light and mine:
My room, my bike, my father's eyes;
As brown seal fur my mother wore was soft
And I could push against it with my face.

Then into my eyes a madness came,
A madness trailed by people from abroad.
They came with purple coffin eyes,
Their flesh turned green from shuddering;
Confused and haunted by a yellow star, they came.

A black smoke-drift followed them
From sadder compounds over there
Where blue fire
Passed through brown bodies
Into browner graves.

Now, with quiet eyes,
The colors bleached by time,
I can look back remembering.


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