after A Girl Reading in an Interior by Peter Ilsted

A certain neutral coat of paint
applied to upper rooms
leaves the reader with little else
to dissipate the gloom.

Ecru, taupe, buff, rust, the color
of coffee or falling leaf,
only the bleached wainscoting and
door provided some relief.

The sunlight, too, in breaking through
the filmy window panes
cast its own slice of light
in angular, milky stains.

Her hair, her dark dress, the oval
frame of the mirror,
the mahogany side table
anticipate the moral

of the fable. The potted plant
stands ready on the sill:
as if readiness and happiness
were part of keeping still.