Seen and Unseen

 

“What do we call visible light? We call it color. But the electromagnetic spectrum runs to zero in one direction and infinity in the other, so really, children, mathematically, all of light is invisible.”

–Anthony Doer, All the Light We Cannot See

IMG_1290

Philadelphia Mural Arts

 

Redshifting and blue,

all the colors, hues

we cannot see, and beyond

our comprehension, or will–

yet, don’t they exist still?

And the man, there on his rags,

sleeping on his clothes in bags–

if we walk by him unseeing

does it mean he’s not a being

worthy of a view, a thought

of what once was? Even if

only a trace of has been–wisps

that linger here–the invisible who

are all the colors, all the hues

and so,

as sunset slow shifts to indigo

and all the in-between,

there, find all the light that’s there

find it, unseen and seen.

 

This is for my prompt at dVerse, where we’re exploring the invisible. I was inspired by the quotation I used and also by the mural that I just happened to see on Sunday, after I had written and scheduled the prompt. Isn’t it weird how that works?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colors of the Morning: Haibun

It is dark now when I wake. Fall is coming, though the air is still summer-steamy. The moon winks good morning and good-bye, in a sky that has turned from midnight blue to indigo. I watch as the sun, heralded by streaks of peach-tinged clouds, slowly rises, and the sky fades to bleached denim. A blue jay screams as he tries to land in the kitchen window bird feeder. He swoops and tries again, then heads back to the trees to tell of his adventures. I drink my coffee as the cats take their morning nap. Rosh Hashanah comes early this year. Soon—despite the heat—I’ll be baking loaves of round challah and simmering a pot of golden pumpkin soup for the new year.

 

lush green leaves and grass

harbor blue birds and brown squirrels—

one red-gold leaf falls

 

 

This Haibun is for dVerse, where Mish asked us to write about morning, and also for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. For this 100th challenge, she left the words to us!

Colors of Love

 When we were little

You took us to the library,

our nearby Dallas branch.

My sister and I chose books

in the children’s section,

then wandered through the library,

where we stood over the air vents

and let our skirts fly up as we twirled,

simply because we were young

and it was fun.

I sometimes sat on your bed

and read my books aloud to you,

while you put on your makeup

or brushed your hair—

it was coffee brown then.

You stood in the attached bathroom.

We called it “the pink bathroom.”

But I never realized until just now

how important color was in our lives–

that we labeled rooms by color.

 

You, an artist in your soul,

see color everywhere.

You would liked to have gone to art school,

but your parents thought that was impractical.

And so you chose colors where you could

for your walls,

for your furnishings,

for our clothing.

I remember the blue and gray suede shoes

you saw for me when you worked

at Lord and Taylor’s.

And how fun you thought orange woodwork would be

in the room my sister and I shared

in Havertown.

You collected Chinese ceramics,

the beautiful turquoise hue

adding more color

to your surroundings,

but you didn’t have the time to paint

flowers or landscapes

while we were young.

You were busy working

and driving us to lessons

and taking care of us when we were sick.

But you made certain we knew colors–

and had art—crayons, paper, and homemade clay,

a special treat for rainy days.

And your color-knowledge passed to my daughters.

Our first-born gray-eyed daughter

still a toddler telling her father

she wanted to go to the restaurant

with the green door.

(We had never noticed the door.)

But she always remembered colors,

and taught color names and knowledge to her sister,

before I even had a chance.

What is the opposite of color blindness?

Is it marked on our genes?

 

You and my father,

though you disagreed and parted,

did agree about many things.

You agreed on the importance of art, music,

and books.

I read nearly all of the books

in the built-in bookcase in our family room.

Rows of long shelves filled with books

their spines in shades of brown, blue, red,

green, and white,

bringing random color to the wall.

It didn’t matter what they were,

history, art, the classics—

I read them.

And I found the jumbo-sized

Hershey’s chocolate bar hidden there, too.

I broke off squares for my sister and me–

and then neatly shelved the bar

back into the bookcase,

where it appeared to be just another book.

 

Now your hair is white,

and my tangled brown curls

are gone.

The colors of my childhood have vanished,

but the memories remain.

I didn’t realize that not all households held such treasures—

books, art, and music, I mean.

I didn’t realize

that all families don’t visit museums

or play “the dictionary game” at the dinner table.

I didn’t realize–

how fortunate we were.

There was always love for us.

And books,

And color,

And, chocolate, of course.

 ©Merril D. Smith, May 2014

Image

At Valley Green, along the Wishahickon.