At the First Dawn of Brightness (After Marianne Moore’s “In the Days of Prismatic Colour”)

Marianne Moore is both an intriguing and a daunting poet to imitate. Her poems, visually and linguistically, dance in complexity and variety, and her subject matter is often both fascinating and impenetrable. Today’s poem is based on “In the Days of Prismatic Colour“, a wonderful meditation on Creation, complexity and simplicity. I offer it tentatively, but happy to have survived the challenge.

At the First Dawn of Brightness (After "In the Days of Prismatic Colour")

when seasons and order were only yet imagined,
        impressions in the Creator's mind, the spirit
 hovered over waters deep,
        the plan a temple in His heart, a stool
 for feet to rest beneath Heaven's radiance; the light

of first-dawn being, time and space instantly conceived,
        and domes there waiting for division, no ribs yet and no
 apples there for eating; and colour
        hummed at first acquaintance with the light, its purpose
 soon to be unveiled: water blue like baby's clothing,

Heaven thick, its door ajar, the light from it refracting
        over domes and oceans and the parting of ideas,
 and celebrations declared when
        the lights, large and small, appeared in the sky,
 marking out our days and giving rhythm, pace and tone,

while colour grew in the teeming oceans and over
        Leviathan on his frolicking back, the texture
 of water atop the scales of skin
        and flesh, each according to its various kinds: this was
 the season declared by the first dawn of brightness,

when shade was a new language and nothing was known
        but the days given order and purpose within every
 breath of soft life, when our
        wisdom had not learned to eat its own fruit, and spring
 was silent punctuation. There colour hovered,

potential unrealised but tranquil: a tone, a hand,
 a promise that when white was spoiled, there would be
        other words, like red,
 on hand, and spectrum-bows in place of floods.

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