By Robert L. Jones
I have seen enough blue-green
for one day. My eyes are tired
of peering at the busy speckled lines
the lasered surface throws back.
Outside, the light falls
in jagged needles through raveled air.
The world is gray.

From up there, it’s blue,
the tiny water world, where life
climbed into the air and turned green,
maybe from envy that it’s not
somewhere else. It’s not easy, being
this way. It’s impossible to rest
with that great light going on
and off always in the same place,
knowing that it’s necessary,
unless you want to turn
white, in icy quiet,
against the black still motion
of the tattered specks of stars.
It’s enough to send you running
ragged, back to the sea.

Down there it’s blue, too,
the color of deep water
when at eighty feet there’s no bottom
and no sides to choose. Suspended,
up-ended, you have no sense
of proportion, lose perspective.
There’s only drifting with the flow,
until your bubbles rip a seam
upward showing you where
you have to go—back to the green,
and then the yellow and the red,
measured out in time for you
to find, until you reach
white, and you’ve got it all.

All is too much to see.
We must have shades.
The separation of the light
exists somewhere in particles,
torn into fragmentary bits to play,
scattered like the fall leaves,
but moving in waves—hello, goodbye—
on a collision course with white,
and black, and gray.

The green of life requires blue,
not too deep or too intense,
just a line of blue-green held in mind,
to knit tatters of shrouded days,
tint the darkness,
and relieve the time of glare.

Once in a while
you know where it belongs,
in the order of the sharp-edged
double bow I saw this morning,
cutting its way into gray memory
to even up the edges
of the ragged clouds.

Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: Poetry (January 2000).


This poem originally appeared in the January 2000 issue of Poetry magazine

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January 2000


Robert L. Jones lives in the hurricane-ravaged-but-recovering Galveston Bay Area of Texas. He has been a professor of literature and humanities and a computer scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center. His work has appeared in numerous places, including Southwestern American Literature, The Southern Review, Houston Poetry Fest Anthologies, JAMA, Presence, Poetry, and elsewhere.

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