These poems are from a chapbook-in-progress, titled Paint by Number. Each poem has a number that refers to the imagined color it evokes and the picture it paints.
1. The color of longing
We are between clouds,
securely belted in.
I can smell the shampoo
of the woman in front of me.
The man kitty-corner
is editing pictures
from a trip to China.
There he is at the Great Wall.
Then there is his friend
in front of a temple.
He crops it, so the man stands
at the edge of the picture,
looking, like he and I are now, closer
focusing in on this friend’s jaw,
the angle of it, and at the right edge
of the picture, dense wood pillars
and the scalloping rain-slicked roof.
The next picture is of a young woman–
she is in profile—sitting at a table,
biting her lip– it’s an old habit
one she takes comfort in
when things aren’t adding up,
this lip-biting, this look. I imagine the color
of her thoughts. I imagine
the number of times
he has wanted to kiss each doubt
of hers away. Paint by number
each of her fingers, each of her wrists,
We are between clouds.
Cannot see anything out the window,
not the wing or the moon.
White airplane, blue seats, clear plastic glasses,
melting ice, the color of longing,
the same color as space.
• • •
She keeps maps in the glove compartment
just in case
Tokyo, Berlin, Barcelona
places she will never drive to, or in
but that’s not the point.
She needs the street’s names
needs them close
needs to know which direction
her north. Needs the rumble of a train
needs streets wet with rain.
Needs the way his eyes read her
chin, collarbone, hipbone, shin
like a map.
• • •
9. The color of good-bye
We said our good-bye
I’ve never been afraid
of the dark,
Like that feeling
to the blackness
to the endlessness of it
to the night.
Letting my eyes adjust
to the world
• • •
Julia Klatt Singer is the poet-in-residence at Grace Nursery School and her most recent book of poems, Untranslatable, North Star Press, was published March, 2015. When not writing, she can be found walking the dog.