Gray

Bob Rogers

The mornings drag on, arriving at a quality of grayness impossible
at a more complicated hour. I am used to the rooms of the house
being empty, their quiet as fast to me as the bone-colored paint
against the plaster, a slate slow to take the color of day. I find a note
beside the telephone, your blueprint script, all caps and perfectly aligned,
the chisel point characters deep in the paper from your pressing, almost silver
on the bleached page. Our lives are filled with language and its exchange—
pieces of barter to buy off the silence leaving its tinge over everything
like vegetable ink rubbed from the newsprint of the morning paper.
What we can’t say is still language. These shadowy emotions are words
even when we don’t know the words. We succeed in telling a small part only,
a detail of the picture, but it’s worth the writing down, if only one word
is partway true. Put it in a note left in the topmost drawer; chances are
it will be discovered. The writer of the book of James believes life is no more
than a breath, invisible and fluid, a vapor soon dispersed. I know the winds
may only be traced by what they manage to pick up and carry, scraps of paper
written over with fading characters, left behind to be found and read again.
© 2007 University of North Carolina Greensboro
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BOB ROGERS is Associate Professor of English at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and lives in Memphis. His work has appeared in The Georgia Review, Shenandoah, and Puerto Del Sol, among other journals. He was recently awarded a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts for the purpose of writing a long poem.
His poem “Gray” received The Greensboro Review’s 2002 Literary Award for poetry.