colour theory

Xiao Yue Shan

teach me how to say it

                here. with people tracing words

that don’t sound like language. sound tying itself in knots

mid-air, bows that one tug should


but nothing happens the way it means to. least of all

sentences. especially since arriving here

    on accident,

    knowing that what they call as yellow does not look

    quite like yellow,

              and conversation pausing your ear

    like singing. misaligned, constant music. speaking

    taking on textures, ribboning

                        the morning in pauses,


              the word yellow isn’t yellow for a very

  long time. blue never get blue. and the sound of orange

  lancing to recall breaking

                    the skin of a gooseberry

with your fingernail. how the silted farmland imbrued vision

with salt,

          grandfather shucking corn in the front yard

  and the ground patted flat and wide with feet. in china

  a desert is called 沙漠. sand-mist,

          and the word is clotted

        with dust. over rows of su choy teeming the earth,

        even intonations

          ask for water. you understand language

in this way. something looking the way it sounds. some-

-thing sounding

                  the way it feels. a land we call

  黄褐色 — thirst-yellow, a vegetable patch blushing

with small breaths of wishing flower, and a grandfather

            taking a slight petal to rub in the soft

                            of your palm.

staining little gold. showing you there

                            what yellow feels like.

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