Today I bring you the next poem in Of Elsewhere: An Exoskeleton. It doesn’t have a title, but it riffs on “gray, the nothing color” from Colorless last month. It depicts the state of mind at the edge between winter and spring; I envision it describing a cold, cloudy, but rainless day. The snow may have melted, or may be dirty end-of-winter sludge. 

homeward sky iridescent pregnant gray but to me
gray like a flat dumb nonsense sentence
cold like something too tired to eat me
that would eat me if it could and I hated it
with hatred too tired to do more
than hunch my shoulders or
that was just my backpack
I was dead

I was walking and I forgot to care
if I went left or right or straight ahead
I forgot to care if i froze or stopped
breathing i forgot to see or to ask
where i was or to hear the traffic
i went to the left to the right

up and down
a little warmth
in the cold cold ocean
of not-quite-rain
a candle almost out
the last of me
the need of me

pearl on slate
edgeless
birds
fly in white
on cold
beneath
ice specks
whirl

This poem is actually two poems put together—”pearl on slate” came from a project I called Skywatch, a daily description of the sky, and I turned it into an experiment with the ambiguity line breaks can generate (is the pearl edgeless or are the birds? is the cold “beneath” or are the ice specks?). The sky “iridescent pregnant gray but to me/ gray like a flat dumb nonsense sentence” is a reference to C.S. Lewis’s Letters to Malcolm—if I remember correctly, Lewis describes trying to avoid feeling superior to people who look at a gray sky and do not see its subtle beauty. And yes, I stop capitalizing the I halfway through on purpose, to indicate that the speaker is growing smaller and feeling less significant (and in the last stanza she disappears entirely). 

Thank you for reading.