I wanted a can of white paint
To finish my dining room wall.
I'd started with left-over paint
and simply couldn't recall,
the exact white that paint was named.
White is white, I've always claimed.
But I found that isn't truly right.
White sometimes is not the same as white.
There is white, near white, off white,
creamy white, clear white, white white
and oyster white and more.
I brought home every sample of white
there was in that paint store.
I dabbed and daubed and dappled
until I could plainly see
I had no white that was the white
I'd put on the other three.
I grew tired of that whiteness game
and threw my paint-brush down,
went back to the store for a gallon of paint
and painted that wall brown.
Copyright © Joyce Johnson