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Interstellar Catalog: Romantic Interlude

By Shana Ross in Issue Twelve, December 2023

On this world all the colors are named anew
with each child. I have a word for yellow &

a word for blue, but it will not help me talk
to another soul in this city. We point to

the sun & the sky and the piped icing
& buttercream roses on these small

cakes we picked out from the bakery.
On this world we agree on the sweet

chew of the crumbs, the strange
way bones are hidden in a hand as it holds

another’s, how fingers can be warm &
yielding and impenetrably solid all at

once. The names for the colors are personal.
Untranslatable. But we try teaching each other,

we do, because we think that is what love is.
I tell you what I have named the sudden

blush of your cheek, you tell me the name
you have given the shining swoop of my hair

in sunlight. Of course we see the same thing
because physics demands it, calls it precision.

But our hearts must authorize the way we see
things, too. When I learn what you call blue,

my favorite of all the skies in the universe, I
cannot stop the disappointment flashing

through me. Still we count the ways we are alike &
we count the ways we are compatible &

we count the ways we understand each other.
I count the days until we will no longer be willing

to translate: your eyes, Rayleigh scattering, the shift
as I leave to witness the next system.

© 2023 Shana Ross

Shana Ross

Shana Ross is a new transplant to Edmonton, Alberta and Treaty Six Territory. Qui transtulit sustinet. A Pushcart and Rhysling nominated author, her work has recently appeared in Cutbank Literary Journal, Laurel Review, Phantom Kangaroo, Radon Journal and more. She serves as an editor for Luna Station Quarterly and a critic for Pencilhouse.org. She is almost a year into a project of befriending her local magpies; they like unsalted peanuts.

Poetry by Shana Ross
  • Interstellar Catalog: Romantic Interlude