Grey (회색빛)

By | 22 May 2011

for Felicity Plunkett


In this World – which is not a world – black
and white withhold truths. In a world

we’d have multiplicities, the purity
of unqualified impurities. In ours we possess

, are possessed by, the comprehension
of qualified organs: terminal vs. respiratory

bronchioles of the lung, left vs. right
hemispheres of the brain. Not a scientist

(thank god) I best understand airports
life’s made me travel: arrivals vs. departures

of good and bad, tourists and terrorists,
and our so-called democracy: the Left

(cunning Capitalists) vs. the Right
(coldblooded Capitalists). Is my being

too a binary composite, bichromatic
backdrop of gloom with streaks of hope?


Maybe I’d like to evoke an irrelevant
memory to name the absent thing: my desk

when my parents bought me one after
years of penury, after pouring their money

into a loan for a flashy house in Tehran’s
highest-status suburb, temporarily resigned

to their son being anti-social, introvert
ruining his spine by bending over notebooks

on the floor, asked me what colour
writing-table I wanted. Thrilled to get to choose

anything, I rejected their suggestions
(blue, blue, blue), insisted, resisted, fought

for two planks of vertical chipboard
legs joined by the horizontal third, desktop

covered in thick, grey contact. Ashen
’s so boring I remember someone sneering

(probably a nosy cousin): in Farsi ash-like
(khaakestar-ee) is the word for grey.


Ashy vastness overshadowed the whiteness
of the page, incisions of my pen’s black ink

as I worked (regurgitated what I’d read)
to forge a raison d’être; and I stayed loyal

to the anti-colour post-migration. If I’d been
dark, wog and olive-complexioned

before, dislocation brought me the paleness
of a zombie’s skin, of what remains after

so much hurt, rejection, anger, self-hatred
not the certainty of black negation,

not the whiteness of success, undecidable
thing beyond the great and the ghastly

made me, overlooked immigrant boy,
loyal to the lyrics of 90s ‘alternative’ music

after I heard in a morose song: “Grey
would be the colour / if I had a heart.” The singer

a ‘Gothic’ artiste (albeit a millionaire
rock star) had just termed the emptiness

of my situation, the void of absolute colours.


Cinder’s interstitial, sutures matter
to interment in ether, always

impermanent. At the point of erasure
by water or air; a caesura, exceeds

fire and smoke, cremation
is the idea of keeping alive the nothing

-ness of life against the parsimony
of urn and plaque – a person may only be

existent as a thing above and outside
body vs. epitaph, black vs. light, being vs. death

to belong to a world finally worthy
of the name, a world that can only be shaded

in ineffable, incomprehensible grey.

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