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Six Values of Neutral Gray

by Sue Standing

The sea, far off, with its rooms and strangers.
Where words recede under the muscle of tide.

In clear moments, I remember your studio
and you in the doorway. If I had not left,

would you have stayed and not turned back
to your blunt vocabulary of strokes,

your monochrome palette. The unmade bed,
a few hairpins arranged on the sheet.

Bight, slip, seawall. We were so quick
to learn each other's imperfections.

Six rooms, six paintings. The shadows grow
more opaque. Nothing that can't be painted out.


Sue Standing’s poems have been published in American Poetry Review, The Nation, and Partisan Review. Her recent book is Deception Pass (Alice James Books, 1984). She teaches at Wheaton College. (4/1988)

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