Figure and Ground

by Jim Willis

A green gecko edged in blue
rests like an “S” on the blue plywood
of the boarded up lei stand at Kealakekua.

The groundskeeper tells me, “the owner died
and that daughter of hers moved to Phoenix.
It’s got rats and should be torn down.”

The shadow of a bird passes over,
and the gecko quickly vanishes. Tick, tick.
Maybe he’s really a chameleon

turned blue to match the blue board
or a squiggle of turquoise on van Gogh’s palette
poised to become a green sky over Arles.

The paint on the lei stand is slow to change.
It oxidizes to bone blue
with no flame and no alarm.

If we viewed the surface in time-lapse,
we’d see it turn to blue chalk.
If we touched it, it would smudge our fingers.

Perhaps we’d notice the changing light,
a monkey pod shedding pink puffs,
and lei makers falling quieter than dust.

 

Jim Willis grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana and graduated from Northwestern State College in Natchitoches, the oldest town in the Louisiana Purchase. He has a Masters in English from Tulane University. He now lives in Murray, Kentucky.

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