Thursday, September 20, 2018

"New Color" by Mary Soon Lee

New Color
Mary Soon Lee

Yesterday, into the heaviness of the novel I was reading--
the over-abundance of meticulous historical detail,
the men acting poorly and the women paying--
"Color" Watercolor on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
came you,
inserting yourself
beside me on the sofa
with your book
about a fairy,
only the second book
you had ever read
for fun.
And when, late last night, after you fell asleep,
I read the pages where a young man walks to his death,
a section that resounded inside me like the words of an old hymn,
you were there,
asleep beside me,
lifting me out
of the waste of it,
and I don't know whether to wish you a childhood like mine:
where I finished one book and picked up the next,
reading and re-reading my favorites until they were part of me;
or to wish you
less solitude
and more time
giggling with friends
or busily searching
for the brand new color
that you first looked for
at the Children's Museum,
a color never seen or made before,
that I held back
from saying you'd never find,
no matter how many crayons you mixed.
Yesterday, as I read, 
my reading was colored
by you.

Poet's Notes:  I wrote the first draft of this poem over seven years ago when my daughter was six years old. As my poems age, I often retire them and store them in large binders with the other veterans. And sometimes instead of retiring them, I dust them off and try to revise them. This particular poem has been revised twice since I first wrote it, both times emerging a few lines shorter. I note for the curious that the novel I was reading was The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt. Despite its title, it is emphatically NOT a book for children.

Editor’s Note:  I believe this is an important poem to publish in a literary magazine.  We lovers of poetry and literature may lament those significant people in our lives who perhaps do not appreciate reading as much as we do.  However, those same people may appreciate the fine arts, music, athletics, or personal relationships and friendships much more than we.  Who is to say which is better or more fulfilling?


  1. Wonderful poem, Mary. Like you, I was (and still am) an avid reader and asked myself the same questions about my son (many years ago). And I particularly enjoyed the ending, "my reading was colored by you." Your line arrangements are interesting, too. Three long, then short lines, three long, etc. I may use a similar technique sometime, if you don't mind, of course.

  2. Thank you so much, Terri! I'm so glad you liked it, and you are very welcome to use any technique you spot in my poetry. Thank you again :-)



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