This Otherwise Ordinary World

When I was young, I knew the other world
            resided in red.
Now it seems to exist more in blue.
Blue and red, red or blue—
I suppose both are true.

Once, I slipped through during solitary games,
amid spinning tops and pick-up-sticks,
            humming nursery tunes.
Now, it’s the cobalt sky, this deep blue ink,
            the beckoning blue of sunlit water,
that mark the way through.

The red bark of yew, the juniper berries’
            dusky blue—
I suppose there’s little to choose between the two,
both of them swaddled in the dappled greenery
            of this endlessly perforated world.

It’s amusing to realize how thoroughly shot through
            with passageways, portals, and plinths
this otherwise ordinary world is,
this pleasant minefield we wander through
            peppered with live traps, ladders, and slides,
all of them just a hair’s breadth beyond
            our sight or sense.

And, really, the colors are only ensigns
            for the entrances they mark—
entrances that leave their trace
like barrel marks on a bullet
            as we tumble through
and, in tumbling, become entranced.

Once, I knew the red ringing in my ear
            was the music of what is
seeping through our muffling veils.
Now it is the blue elixir of bells
            and tree-whispered spells
that thrum upon the threshold.

Blue and red, red or blue? No matter, it’s true.
I’ve sought you these forty-seven years,
passing through.
Now, I simply smile at how easily
            I drift into the blue.

—Timothy Walsh