Tuesday Poem: Thirteen Shades of Black
There is the black of a young raven
which is blue;
and the event horizon at the centre of a galaxy
beyond which is an absence of light;
the fluttering fabric of a hijab in the courtyard
of the women’s mosque, a dark sail
‘veiling human-kind from God’.
The bones of a tree, inked
on a winter horizon.
A Jaguar; all burning eyes, white teeth and darkness
in the Amazon rain forest.
The dress my mother treasured
Chanel style; the one every woman
The dark sink-hole at the centre of an eye
you disappear into
The purple-black of a bruise
after the failure of love.
The mildewed winter coat my grandfather kept
for funerals and weddings
green at the cuffs and pockets.
Malevich in Lenin’s Russia, painting his revolutionary square;
a black symbol of the new art.
The bloated corpse floating in the loch;
the faceless killer, child abductor. This is NOIR.
You are too afraid to sleep but
can’t stop watching.
The almost seen, out-of-the-corner-of-the-eye
dart and flutter of a bat – a flitter-mouse
of fur and leather, writing its character on the dusk.
New school shoes; their black Cherry Blossom shine.
Blacking out. An absence of consciousness,
the spinning vortex of the fall. Which is gravity.
Which is black.
© Kathleen Jones 2017
How many of you have been doing NaPoWriMo? National Poetry Month - that good intention to write a poem a day for a month? I definitely can't keep up - my life has been so busy I haven't even managed to blog for a couple of weeks now. But I am trying to at least think around a subject every day. I found Jo Bell's 'A Month of Poetry Prompts', which she created for the 52 project, very useful and I've been having a go at some of them.
Yesterday was a command to write a new take on 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens and the response by RS Thomas, Thirteen Blackbirds Look at a Man. So this is my version of thirteen ways to look at something - written appropriately in the middle of the night. Some bits are contentious: does gravity have a colour? But if gravity is associated with dark matter then, yes, it's probably going to be black. Unconsciousness certainly is. And there will be some who question my inclusion of no. III. on the grounds of cultural sensitivity. But one of my most potent memories is sitting in the women's mosque in Shiraz and watching a billowing hijab against the light - the quote in the third line is taken from a Muslim text explaining why it might be necessary to wear one - the idea of covering one's head in the presence of God is also common in Judaism and Christianity. As children we had to wear a dark head covering to enter a Catholic church. In Spain and Italy women still do.
Someone is bound to point out that it should be 50 Shades of Black, but then I'd have been up all night!!
Jo Bell is also posting a poem a day this month, with commentary, on her blog - and very good they have been. This is the link.