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