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Stone Shadows

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Written by David St John

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 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.
Finally.
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.


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