The Blank Page

by Rachel Creager Ireland

NaPoWriMo, Day 2

The Blank Page

Time to write a poem.
Let’s see what the page has to tell me.
It says that white, Chinese symbol of death,
is emptiness that must be filled. I defy you,
death, by placing black marks upon your face.

White in the European tradition
is purity and cleanliness, and this too
calls for defilement. That which is virgin
must be acted upon. That which is empty
must be filled. If you have a flashlight
in your hand, there is no question but
you are required to test the switch.
Turn it on. Go on, see if you can resist.
Perhaps we should call that bright beam’s
hue the color of compulsion.

White the blank mind. The fluid that
corrects mistakes. The deadliest
sweeteners, saccharin, aspartame,
sucrose. Winter. Sleep, fog, high
cloud cover at noon.

Is white the absence of color, or the presence
of every color? Ask a painter and a
lighting designer and lock them in a room
until they agree.

Do I have enough words yet? Can I call this
a poem? Have I left enough black on the page?
Or too much, left not enough white?