The Gray Museum

By Sydney Lea

Featured Art: Canal Scene Near Bruges, Belgium by William Stanley Haseltine

Flat on their tapestry, hawks and hounds
and a corps of horsemen showed that much flatter
for the sleeted windows. All of Manhattan
seemed a great gray museum.
Our words went blurry. It was never romance.
Or do you insist?
I thought how mountains sag into deltas

with time. From a sill outside drab pigeons
flushed into haze—and were erased.
The horsemen’s woven reins went slack.
In a hotel bed
later that night, even sleep turned gray:
in my dream, a train
huffed till the station misted like glass;

in yours, you reported, fogged coastal Maine.
To me your report proved unintriguing,
I knew you’d never seen that shore.
Our breakfast eggs
looked hueless, yolkless. Attempted speech
bleared in our mouths
and the morning newspaper faded, smearing

the sodden pulp it faded into.
I haven’t thought in years of that day,
so little to draw me back to then.
You wouldn’t know me,
grown vivid, colorful! And you?
You’ve leached away.
So what, you might ask, is bringing this on?

But how could you ask? What would I say?


Sydney Lea, a former Pulitzer finalist, recently published his thirteenth collection of poems, Here. Shortly ago, Able Muse published “The Exquisite Triumph of Wormboy,” a graphic mock epic in collaboration with former Vermont Cartoonist Laureate James Kochalka.

Originally published in NOR 6

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