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By the Colour of Death

By the colour of death I know him well
blue like the depth of winter; cold
as if in his eyes he captures that unforgiving light
of fluorescent bulbs, harsh above bodies in an autopsy room 
or swimming bath changing rooms
highlighting every dimple, dent, scar of a mark of your body. 

You see his paintings in those who mourn: 
a deep violet or mauve, verging on black. 
The sort of oil-paint brush strokes that rush across the sky at midnight, 
on a clear day
or under tired and anxious eyes. 

He walks and he paints

one hand dipping the brush into the palette of his clothes and mind
as the other one strikes his scythe across people’s necks. 

Have you seen the colour of a family as they drown in tears? 
clinging onto each other’s clothes as they hug
a sort of stagnant stillness, a watercolour or ink-splashed
slurred / swilled / stripe of a thing
like the fresh haze at five-am on a winter morning
with ice encrusted grass crunching below your feet. 

Even red (although bloody and resembling that crimsoned hate
felt by most as he enters, does his deed and leaves) 
is too warm for him. 

Instead, on the backs of his hands within his cracking bones
he carries the colours you would imagine
buckets of ice to resemble. 
A pure and inevitable white (stale and lifeless: death) 
as he paints the corpses into that horrific pallor. 

In wars he seems to orchestrate some sort of symphony
as if somehow he bursts colours across a whole battlefield
or around schools when madmen hit
greys of sadness marring his palette, bodies of sunken, putrefied flesh, 
struck down under a torrent of rain across uneven tarmac. 

When my mother’s mother died
he painted her blue.

◄ Linguistic Approaches to Love

When the Wind Sighs - Video Recital ►


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