Find the Colors in this Urban Afternoon Reflection



A chimney, breathing a little smoke.

The sun, I can’t see

making a bit of pink

I can’t quite see in the blue.

The pink of five tulips

at five p.m. on the day before March first.

The green of the tulip stems and leaves

like something I can’t remember,

finding a jack-in-the-pulpit

a long time ago and far away.

Why it was December then

and the sun was on the sea

by the temples we’d gone to see.

One green wave moved in the violet sea

like the UN Building on big evenings,

green and wet

while the sky turns violet.      

A few almond trees

had a few flowers, like a few snowflakes

out of the blue looking pink in the light.

A gray hush

in which the boxy trucks roll up Second Avenue

into the sky. They’re just

going over the hill.

The green leaves of the tulips on my desk

like grass light on flesh,

and a green-copper steeple

and streaks of cloud beginning to glow.

I can’t get over

how it all works in together

like a woman who just came to her window

and stands there filling it

jogging her baby in her arms.

She’s so far off. Is it the light

that makes the baby pink?

I can see the little fists

and the rocking-horse motion of her breasts.

It’s getting grayer and gold and chilly.

Two dog-size lions face each other

at the corners of a roof.

It’s the yellow dust inside the tulips.

It’s the shape of a tulip.

It’s the water in the drinking glass the tulips are in.

It’s a day like any other.

—James Schuyler


Peter Gizzi reads this poem aloud and offers a commentary on what he sees here, observing a New York City scape through a wide angle lens, and then, contrasting all this with his micro-observation of the yellow “dust” inside one particular pink tulip.

The poet writes, apparently looking out of his window in New York City.


My view is different, but it’s still FE-BRRRR-UARY!





* * *


Mother, Aunt Ruthie, brother Mark, Grandma Longenecker enjoying tulips, circa early 1960s. It’s probably a warm day in late March or even April at Hershey Gardens, PA; they are not wearing sweaters or coats.


Mother sits with her lacquered straw, spring purse on her lap, Grandma with her black satchel, Mark sitting primly for the camera and Aunt Ruthie sporting her congenial teacher face. All gone now, but remain forever in memory as lovers of natural beauty.




Miss Ruth M. Longenecker, oil painting winter scene



(Referencing the first line of James Schuyler’s poem) An antique memento from our home on Anchor Road: incense burning within a “log cabin,” my father’s souvenir from his deer hunting days in a mountain lodge in northern Pennsylvania. The acrid smell from the stick of incense warmed our hearts and tickled our noses on cold winter evenings.



Thank you for sharing your impressions:

the poetry, the people, or the pictures