Fall 2021

Gray Areas

By Ali Tarbox Saperstein

Black is the absence of color, and white is the sum of all colors. Gray dispenses with argument, heedlessly pours both into one cup. Gray is no and yes and something beyond. This morning, gray asserts itself to me in the exhale of fog pushing up over the green. It obscures both forest and trees, smudging the fabled difference between. Beads of rain fall like curtains of glittering coin. They splatter, pixelating the ashen face of the lake. Each drop creates a perfect, titanium circle that expands like a bright, little galaxy, then dissipates. Gray arises, falls away.  

On the shore, a slick, slate overhang suggests I could slip into the inky depths of cold water below the pewter surface. But I shiver and think instead of our lichen-gray sheets, warm and smooth under your body now. The bed where you whispered, do we still love, as if there could be only one answer. I finger my ring, trace the tortuous curves of palladium twisted with gold, holding promises mostly kept, well enough. I traveled miles of asphalt, gravel, and stone to get to this wild, gray area. Isn’t it love that makes me think now of touching your beard, with its tinsel of age? And how at ease we might be together when all our follicles stop making distinctions at last and surrender to silver, soft as mist on our shoulders.


Ali Tarbox Saperstein writes creative nonfiction in service of wonder, truth, and joy. She lives in the Cedar-Sammamish watershed of the Pacific Northwest temperate rainforest. This is her first published piece.

Fall 2021