Watercolors at Year’s End

Watercolors at Year’s End

Rojas, Andres

Your trees were, rightly, secondary,

a wash of sun and sky, branches

fat as velvet pillows, cones

clumsy as the questions I would ask:

Is steel the color of nightmare?

Are dreams smoke-blue? What color love?

Yours were non-answers I translated,

scribbled lines, the trembling brush

you barely held, the muddled colors

apple-boughs as cramped as thumbs,

a flight of sparrows, rising,

darkness rising its slow wings,

your eyes two iceberg wounds

sharp as a broken window pane,

bloody as your hands, blind

as the ice-crystal wind

blowing in from cedars

lapped by heavy mist.

What depths you knew then

kept your hulk intact,

palms and fingers bandaged,

then scarred, then free again

to finish your bidding.

Like your room, what’s inside

is what was lost: gone

the woman bundled in bed

tossed like a passenger at sea,

the bottles empty of their pills,

the wine cold in a cup,

the body at last empty and at rest.

Am I to answer now? You are beyond

my every skill. Your city under snow

is black and white, your days are gray:

gray overcast, gray drizzle,

yourself gray and pencil-drawn,

unseen, in any case,

but for what colors hide you:

forest of Christmas wreath and ribbon,

a pallid face shut like the night,

the stars weightless on your lids.

What color love? It is a messy shadow,

a stain that spreads like failure or remorse.

Never again the child’s easy palette.

Never the grace of a blank page.

Copyright New England Review Fall 1998

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