Naomi Shihab Nye

Defining White

On the telephone no one knows what white is. 
My husband knows, he takes pictures. 
He has whole notebooks defining 
how white is white, is black, 
and all the gray neighborhoods in between.

The telephone is blind. 
Cream-white? Off-white? 
I want a white, he says, 
that is white-white, 
that tends in no direction 
other than itself.

Now this is getting complex. 
Every white I see is tending 
toward something else. 
The house was white, but it is peeling. 
People are none of these colors.

In the sky white sentences form and detach.
Who speaks here? what breath
scrawls itself endlessly,
white on white, without being heard?
Is wind a noun or a verb?

spoken = Susannah Wood