Al Young title

HOW THE RAINBOW WORKS

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Courtesy mysweetcherryblossom.blogspot.com

HOW THE RAINBOW WORKS

for Jean Cook, on learning of her mother’s death

Mostly we occupy ocular zones, clinging
only to what we think we can see.
We can’t see wind or waves of thought,
electrical fields or atoms dancing;
only what they do or make us believe.

Look on all of life as color—­
vibratile movement, heart-centered,
from invisibility to the merely visible.
Never mind what happens when one of us dies.
Where are you before you even get born?
Where am I and all the unseeable souls
we love at this moment, or loathed
before birth? Where are we right now?

Everything that ever happened either
never did or always will with variations.
Let’s put it another way: Nothing ever
happened that wasn’t dreamed, that wasn’t
sketched from the start with artful surprises.
Think of the dreamer as God, a painter,
a ham, to be sure, but a divine old master
whose medium is light and who sidesteps
tedium by leaving room both inside and outside
this picture for subjects and scenery to wing it.

Look on death as living color too: the dyeing
of fabric, submersion into a temporary sea,
a spectruming beyond the reach of sensual
range which, like time, is chained to change;
the strange notion that everything we’ve
ever done or been up until now is past
history, is gone away, is bleached, bereft,
perfect, leaving the scene clean to freshen
with pigment and space and leftover light.

© Al Young
— from HEAVEN: Collected Poems 1956-1990

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