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The Houses at Portuguese Flats
     (from a painting by Kevin Milligan)
by Greg Gregory

Grasses brood thick in earth yellows, pond greens,
daubed in broad short strokes like Van Gogh late in his life.

The choked meadows push the few empty frame houses
toward the horizon, anchor their fences a step
from the cliff edge, before a final fall into the sea.

Devoid of all souls, yellow meadows isolate them,
end them against blue and lavender oblivion,
announce their sea-faded presence.
The voices mime from each house:

yellows, blues cry of trapped hopes, greens shed soft tears,
purples and brown insinuate secrets, gray windows pray,
door close on whispers—the absent live their echoes.

A solitude, a self, grows slow within each wall,
each year, past storms that broke windows, the eternal salt
that twisted the skin of soft wood, indelible scars carved
between the calm of the sunny, painted days.

The tough grasses wave to the sky from invisible roots.
They anchor the fleeting houses with umbers, siennas,
faded greens, ochres—earths, stroke after sure stroke.

The houses cling to the cliffs with their weathered stories.
They paint their footnotes to an open sky.


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