When he couldn’t sleep and his sight got going
he noted the colors on the back of each painting;

this one forest blue, that gunpowder,
one blue to make the yellow tell,
and one bluer than that.

Certain nights only the rain will have 
its say, troubling the downspout.

When morning came
he chose a white shirt
(they’re all white) and followed the buttons down.

At least he says there is Billie Holiday
and the plants bring every green with them.

When I make his breakfast, the bed,
sweep the house out with a broom,
he stands by the window longer than one should.

I know he believes in progress
even if it’s the kind you can’t see.

When his sons grew tall and remote
and moved to cities he’d barely heard of,
he talked to them on Sundays. 

Though perhaps it’s too late
a silk rose in his lapel.

When I came back some nights
I saw him caught beneath a streetlamp
talking with the girl he loved

turning his palm over
like a phrase he couldn’t remember.

I saw the night come down around them
one hand turning
and how she turned in the dark

and smiled, blue scarf on her head,
blue dog at her feet, blue attic between the stars.

From Big Back Yard by Michael Teig, published by BOA Editions, Ltd. Copyright © 2003 by Michael Teig. Reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. All rights reserved.