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The Beginning of Colour

These brown discolorations on a faded black And white photograph are not at all like a defect In anything remembered, but, rather, a kind of ‘crystalisation’ as Stendhal described it, in One of his more eccentric books about love. In truth, my childhood was cast down like a twig Into an abandoned salt-mine near Salzburg From where it emerged, of this I’m certain, As something much richer than my own life, A jewelled branch of living history, now Retrieved by my mother from the well at Twig Bog Lane. I’ll never know who it was, and anyway Why would I want to know who it was That slid the black hard plastic button to On One late summer afternoon in nineteen fifty-seven, So that not only did a kind of shutter flick open In my head, but the full force of colour saturation Hit my brain. The effect was high-speed Ektachrome And life as it is now, that studio of constant poems – It’s just that as my mother hauled the metallic Home Assistance milk gallon from the deep well In Twig Bog Lane, the light of deprivation reflected Back from her face and fell upon me, and I knew How biography is the steadying of only one kind Of lens, how memory offers different iterations; How, somewhere, a paper was being coated with Such chemicals that even deeper colours would form Over time. During that summer, a world away, The first International Colour Salon was organised


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