Poem of the Week

Blue Shadows

Jeffrey Harrison

Monday evening, out to dinner
with my cousin Paul, I told him
that another friend had died,
this time of bone marrow cancer.
My elder by twenty-five years,
he sympathized, then shared the story
of his disintegrating marriage.
Maybe it was partly the restaurant’s
state-of-the-art halogen lighting,
but as he spoke I noticed his blue
corduroy jacket was somehow
tinting all the shadows on the white,
brightly lit tablecloth between us—
his hand and arm, my beer glass,
his wine glass, the pepper mill—
a blue so beautiful, almost indigo,
I could hardly wait for him to pause,
and when he did, I said, “Paul,
look at these amazing shadows!”

If those shadows had been a material,
it could have been made into a scarf
softer than the softest cashmere
and the perfect color to be worn
to Marylynn’s memorial that Saturday,
where everyone had been asked
to wear something lavender,
her favorite color. A lot of people
opted for purple, making the shirt
I’d bought and thought was lavender
look blue. That night it snowed.
Taking a walk the next afternoon,
there were those shadows again,
just as before, though now of trees:
long scarves of impalpable fabric,
a violet-hued blue, unfurling
over the sunlit snow and fraying
into ribbons and loose strands
of lavender unraveling.

Jeffrey Harrison is the author of six books of poetry, including Between Lakes. His poems have been included in Best American Poetry and the Pushcart Prize volumes, and have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Paris Review, The Hudson Review, The Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere.
Originally published:
May 25, 2022

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