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Published: Sat Oct 15 1988
Art by Jin Suk
Six Values of Neutral Gray

The sea, far off, with its rooms and strangers.
Where words recede under the muscle of tide.

In clear moments, I remember your studio
and you in the doorway. If I had not left,

would you have stayed and not turned back
to your blunt vocabulary of strokes,

your monochrome palette. The unmade bed,
a few hairpins arranged on the sheet.

Bight, slip, seawall. We were so quick
to learn each other’s imperfections.

Six rooms, six paintings. The shadows grow
more opaque. Nothing that can’t be painted out.

See what's inside AGNI 27

Sue Standing is the author of three books of poetry: Amphibious Weather (Zephyr Press, 1981), Deception Pass (Alice James Books, 1984), and Gravida (Four Way Books, 1995). Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, AGNI, Poetry Northwest, The Nation, and elsewhere. A contributing editor of AGNI and recipient of  fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, she is professor of English at Wheaton College, where she directs the Creative Writing Program*.* (updated 4/2022)

Standing’s book Gravida was reviewed in AGNI 43 by Martha Collins.

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