IMOGEN AND THE BEGINNING OF COLOR
Imogen had a glass tank and one fish.
She loved to look at her fish, slept
that she might dream of her fish, looked away
for the bounding pleasure of seeing it again.
One day, Imogen went to the river
to gather new water.
She set out up the hill
and down the hill
and over the field
and down to the river.
Imogen peered into her face and saw
the most extraordinary thing:
as marvelous as her own—
Imogen dipped her bucket into the river
in the new fish swam. When she poured
the new water in went the fish into the tank.
The fish circled the fish. Imogen gasped in wonder—
One was light! One dark!
One would always be light,
one would always be dark.
And for a time, her delight doubled.
Are there light fish? Dark fish?
Across the field.
In her eyes in the river, fish.
Imogen dipped her bucket into the water.
When she poured the new fish in the tank,
What other fish? Fourth, blue-green.
Another fish, yellow;
red-yellow fish red.
Blue fish made the blue-green green.
Brown fish, purple fish, pink fish, orange fish.
One gray fish.
Imogen had all the fundamental fish:
Gray, orange, pink,
brown, purple, blue,
green, yellow, red,
The gray fish was all over grayish,
red every reddish, pink pinkish.
All of these forms in her tank and Imogen.
Up the hill
down the hill
over the field
down the river
across the river
along the bank
up the meadow
down through the glade
and up went her bucket
and over the dunes
and down by the sands to the sea.
There were fish, like her fish.
For a time, it was enough to—there—
She did not see,
This was what she had not known she wanted.
Dunes Glade Meadow Bank Meadow Bank River Glade Dun Glad Back Tan
The water made room for an octopus.
It was not gray,
not orange, not pink,
blue, green, yellow, red,
Slid on and off the octopus,
all color, no color.
The fish refracted.
The octopus brooded.
One morning the gray fish,
not grayish but gone.
Orange fish, gone.
Pink fish, purplish, gone.
Watched the octopus by watching around it.
One by one, one by one fewer colors.
Fewer and fewer, but there,
there, no more octopus.
Blue fish gone—
green and yellow and red.
And all the light in one of the fish
and all the dark in the other.
Imogen looked at one fish, looked at the other—
There was one fish in the tank. When it swam
in her face in the glass—what a marvelous fish.
Imogen watched it in unnamed colors.