Lines West: ‘The Almost’

THE ALMOST

(Rothko/Stevens/Hemingway)

Standing in front of a black painting

you almost say what you mean, almost

reach out to touch, almost set off the alarm

and the large German guard almost yells

at you, her face almost the color of a low winter

sun through branches.  But you don’t.  You can

see what it is that is meant to make sense.

This is almost order, almost history, but

you can’t quite make of it the sense it wants

and it feels like black failure, like liquorice hard

in the pit of your belly.  To see the lines bisecting

the black.  To have a feeling of black that is

lit from the side, but to only almost say what

it tastes like, to say instead: disappointment.

—  Jennifer Hancock


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