Settled in the Gray

Dust weighs down the room
giving an unfocused appearance, yet
somehow adding emphasis
to the few items that remain:

the soft table in front of the window
edges worn down and rounded
lit by the paleness
of dawn’s indirect light

the square stool pulled out
at an angle
grain of wood on its seat
rubbed smooth but defiantly standing

the small box, once darkly stained
at the far corner with lid left open
a pair of stunted, sharp scissors
and a spool of black denier thread
– strong, flat, smooth, lightly waxed –
nearly gone –
as the only inhabitants

and the tired black feathers of a fly
at the table’s center –
thin, chenille body
gold ribbing, woolly hackle
fluffy marabou tail
with a graying layer of dust

Dust weighs down the room
filling the atmosphere, but somehow adding
to the emptiness
I reach out, hand hovering above the fly
then down over the stool, but –
I halt.
I wish to trace that grain, worn but still standing strong
like I would the veins on the back of your hand as a child
but –
a tear falls to the floorboards –
I stare at the displaced dust
in the indirect light of dawn

Throat tight
grasping my own hands
behind stiff back
I walk away
to let everything fade
settled in the gray


Originally published by Bourgeon, April 2021

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