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Stone Shadows

 For an entire year she dressed in all the shades
Of ash — the gray of old paper; the deeper,
Almost auburn ash of pencil boxes; the dark, nearly

Black marl of oak beds pulled from burning houses.
That year, even her hair itself was woven With an ashen white, just single threads here & there.
Yet the effect at last was of a woman Constructed entirely of evening shadows .
walking Toward you out of an antique ink-&-pearl snapshot.
Still, it was exactly the kind of sadness I could understand, & even love; & so, I spent hours Walking the back streets of Trastevere looking in the most Forbidding & derelict shops for some element of ash She’d never seen before.
It may seem odd to you, now, But this was the single ambition of my life.
I had to give it up; I'd failed.
She knew them all.
So, To celebrate our few months together, I gave her Before we parted one night a necklace with a huge fake Ruby.
She slipped it immediately over her head, & its knuckle Of red glass caught the light reflecting off the thin candles Rising by the bed.
On her naked breasts it looked exactly Like an unworldly, burgundy coal.

by David St John
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