Color Key by Barbara F. Lefcowitz

To burn off the layers of sleep
the red poem appears
all at once
in the scrawl of a dream
hastily recalled before its fire dies
leaving neither ashes nor a fine
black linen rash on the bed-clothes.

An acquired taste, the aubergine poem,
its sleek surface suitable for gift wrap
the wallpaper in a French boudoir
with whose roses it frequently rhymes, especially
those that climb perfectly aligned trellises.
Arranged on chaises lounges
philosophers speak in villanelles
about the infinitudes of being, becoming
the converse of a mirror, each syllable
suffused with whore-scent and chocolate,
symmetrically patterned on the finest
Limoges. Unpeel a bonbon
and a splendid nothingness spills, vanishes
into molecules of perfume
like the aubergine poem once read.

Spare me from yellow poems
larded with artificial sun,
gold fillings packed inside lines
so porous and soft
they leave no mark when they bite.

Its coldness, seeming flatness–
despite stray blue threads
that swim through its many levels–
may suggest that a poem
the color of ice
merits no claim on our memory
until its tautly-edged syllables melt
into infant-babble, a manic brook’s
mad rush, that pool where the world’s
many lost tongues
merge their speechlessness.

More luminous than snow at dusk
the royal blue poem
arrives unsought
a pane from a stained-glass window
in search of a new cathedral.