White Cloud Over Purple

7:00 AM

Mark Rothko, White Cloud Over Purple, 1957
By ROSIE PASQUALINI

I stand stranded on a canvas            cold core churning, sides aglow
overhead the white sky dances        while a redness roils below
I had spent ten lifetimes fighting        for the love of rugged eyes
and the mouths that spouted        —purple!        ‘twas my name, as I surmised.

I hung fast within the vastness, knowing nowhere could surpass
This sweet world where walls were windows, and truth trembled through the glass.
But my skin grew thin from coveting a fate I failed to see;
Though surrounded by my siblings, I knew not what lived in me.
Then, one sorry Sunday morning, when no painted faces paid,
And the house of hues grew humble, and no footsteps ricocheted
Off the dusty marble sea        then I languished        then I screamed:

“Who is purple? What am I? Have I distilled my silhouette
for the irises of pupils who look through me and forget?
What a scornful predilection! Can’t I catch a single hint
of my bare reflection, unadorned by someone else’s tint?”

I stood stranded on a canvas            hot core burning, sides aglow
when I felt the white sky dancing        as the redness roiled below
so I spun about in wonder            I was them, and they were me 
tugging one way, then the other        in discordant harmony.

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