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Words: Lily Crooke

You never realised just how many shades of grey there are

until moving here.

To name a few:

the grim coppery glow of lamplit skies,

cavernous shadows of slick pools of rain,

soot-stained pigeons,

the soft fuzzy grey of mould on sliced bread,

grimy frost-covered rooftops.

You had never felt the piercing and hushed grey of motorway noise.

Or the downpour of faces,

eyes turned downwards

to the cold sea of tarmac,

the gaping mouths of bits of gum.

A closed-in leaden sky – heavy as if waiting.

Recently, I’ve been trying to recolour my life,

the mundane and the dull frustrations

of day to day to day to day.

Maybe the grey began out here, with the sky and the street and the buildings, and made its

way inside. It has been trodden into me. Like the damp I tread into my home when I come in

heavy with rain.

But sometimes I think it could have been here all along. Hidden, waiting dormant beneath

whitewashed walls. The stains emerging after a day of especially heavy showers. They

blossom – forbidding and dense like storm clouds. Yet the damp spreads so gradually that

you can’t tell how much it has grown until the greyness is so swollen that it covers every

blank patch of wall.

I need a volta. A dramatic turn. But what can be done to induce a sudden change of

perspective? Maybe I need fanfare or a dawning sun, or a miracle so huge that it cannot be

ignored. Or maybe a tiny one will do. A cup of tea and a restful evening. Quietly sip the hot

swirling grey liquid and fall back in love with the colour, the first step to falling back in love

with the city. Although admittedly it helps, colour can be found without the sparking,

rekindling power of a fresh start or a shift in season.

How easy to find vividness in the

tangerine carnations

their rosy faces gossamer thin

content, basking in the weak spring sun

more than enough after such a long winter,

dark wine-red jam spread on toast,

Admiral blue book covers

filled with writing that you skim over

fingers brushing the spine, the creamy layers of paper,

fossilised coffee stains on tables,

blood on scratched knuckles and violet blossoming bruises

proving that you’re alive.

But there is brilliance also

in grey,

as in the silver of the clouds

sun below the horizon

like an eye frozen mid-blink

minds eye expanding and exploding

into a wide open, endless, continuous flint blue;

I think that blue eyes are more beautiful

when the shadow cast by the brightness of morning

re-colours them ashen;

there is intensity also in the faded bloodlessness

of photos made pale by sunlight

and in the clay of the earth,

sticking to fingers – the imprints that tell of our time here –

and in ashes – scattered.


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