You wonder if my recent
photos affix the weather
in grays of absolute gloom.
The shopping center parking lot
draped in a spume of raincloud
looked flat enough to sadden
the brightest childhood Christmas.
I’d gone to Pet Smart to stock
the larder for the cats, but caught
this slump of landscape full-bore
and had to share it with you
to spread and thin out the pain.
But what if instead of gray
snapshot weather those clouds
were bursts of shellfire toppling
the sheaves and reams of culture?
The two worlds wars have faded,
and collective memory fails
to account for school shootings,
police executions, politics
that discolor all discussion
like madmen wielding crayons.
I say madmen to exclude
women like you who render
with exquisite color sense
a world parallel but distant,
one in which I’d like to live
if I could ever afford the rent.
The sky didn’t look at all
like photos of the Great War—
shrapnel and flung dirt sprouting
in organic sprigs of monochrome.
It looked as sullen as a child,
bored with itself and everything.
I thought that photographing it
would lend an aesthetic dimension;
but then I remembered my errand,
and thought of cat food instead
of keeping my good eye focused
on the sorrow and pity of light.