The Colour Of White

A child’s face in the middle of the night, small in the gloom, waking from a dream. Patterns of light cast from the moon, pale ribbons on dark wood floors.

A circle of ricotta in the middle of the plate, grainy, soft, makes me think that maybe the moon is made of cheese. The plate sits on a tablecloth edged with lace, pretty as a wedding gown, reminiscent of grand Victorian tea rooms full of Royal Albert china.

Stars tinged with yellow, miracles of brightness. Clouds, the softest of all, the fairy floss only angels can eat.

Milk in glass bottles, so solid the colour of it fills your eyes. Eggs, so smooth and flawless you wouldn’t dare put a crack in the shade of them.

Doves and bunnies and puppies and butterflies and certain kinds of cats. Sheets on the line, billowing as if people are thrusting themselves against them.

Front doors, back doors, window frames. Tall ceilings that seem to go on forever.

Roses, azaleas, snowdrops, snowflakes. Lilies, daisies, sugar, ice. Sea spray leaving trails on sand. That is the colour of white.

A white flag, signifying the surrender of labels and barriers should be erected right across the world and named the great white hope forcing us to realise that maybe it’s not so hard to learn to love one another.

We can walk in light, white and clear and inhale its purity and not be afraid. We can appreciate the silence, the stillness of white in all its forms as it folds itself like a cloak over the land. Because white needn’t be broken or tense or empty. Or the colour of goodbye.

Because white is the colour upon which our world is built, bold, skilfully cut. Luminous stone springing into an ivory morning.

18 thoughts on “The Colour Of White

  1. I loved reading this, Selma, especially “Clouds, the softest of all, the fairy floss only angels can eat.”

    On a side note: I don’t know how Australia is, but the second to last line would be so un-P.C. here in the USA; but only because so many tend to take things out of context.

    Have an absolutely lovely weekend!



  2. Another ‘wow’ moment at SITC! You are truly a gifted writer Selma. This is incredibly beautiful. I’m going back now for a re-read. Lovely, lovely!!! Hugs, G πŸ™‚


  3. PS: Have you had a chance to check out: Beachcombing at Miramar? Just curious. Probably available at your library if you want to browse through before buying. It was a very popular book. G


  4. CRAFY GREEN – you are always so kind. Thank you.

    LINDA – now that is interesting. Actually, now that I read that line again I can see what you mean but of course I am using ‘white’ metaphorically as a symbol of something that is yet to be transformed, in a raw state,if you like. It has nothing to do with the colour of a man’s skin. Wow. The PC thing isn’t quite as bad here but you guys, in the US, I feel for you because things seem to be taken out of context all the time. Thank you for pointing this out, it just shows you how easy it is to misinterpret something that was not meant to offend.

    GERALDINE – glad you liked it, my dear. Happy to oblige. I haven’t had a chance to find that book yet as I’ve been incredibly busy, but I’ll get there. It’s on the TO-DO list.

    KAREN – awwww. That is such a sweet way to put it. ‘You make words feel good.’ You make ME feel good. Oh God, I almost said ‘like a natural woman…’ Oh, um, sorry it’s a bit of a family joke. We always say it when someone has gotten themselves into a bit of a strop (Aussie for bad mood) and they’re going on and on about how they feel. To divert the strop we always slip in ‘like a natural woman.’ It actually is a good mood lightener but it’s all about timing. Timing is everything. πŸ˜€


  5. This really is a very good piece incorporating the colour of white as it occurs in the world. I like how you’ve applied emotion to the colour – one of your specialities. However, Linda is right about that PC comment. You might have trouble getting this published because of that one line. I know you didn’t mean anything by it, but you know what people can be like. Unfortunately, writers have to censor themselves more and more these days.


  6. MEL – you are freakin’ kidding me. Aww, that stinks. I really like that line. I was speaking to that artist at work (you know the one) and she told me that many artists use white as the starting point for their work, that it’s a building block for adding colour. That’s what I meant. White as the starting point on the palette for the colours of life. But being the old punk I am I’m not going to change it. In fact, I am blowing a raspberry to the PC police right now.


  7. HOLLY – I find white very comforting. I don’t know why, really. A soft whiteness really soothes me.

    PAISLEY – If I am the goddess you are the high priestess. Honestly, you rule in that department!


  8. Just gorgeous imagery.

    I read that last paragraph exactly as you said: like a blank canvas being prepared. I see now what Linda means, but I had to reread it a couple of times before it stood out that way for me.

    I find the insistence on calling people “white” or “black” really quite funny. I love looking at skin tones, and as an (amateur) artist I’m always looking at it in terms of what colours I would have to use to reproduce the exact tone. There is a stunning richness of colour in our world. Some people who would be considered “white” can have darker skin than someone who is considered “black”. And hardly anyone is actually genuinely “black” or “white”, and if they are then they are fairly unique and I admire photographers and artists who can capture an image of a person with very pale or very dark skin without compromising either definition or colour.


  9. DAOINE – oh absolutely. We are all differing shades of black or white. Linda was telling me how tough it is these days in the US with the PC movement. It would be so easy to get yourself tangled up in knots, wouldn’t it? Inadvertently, I called someone an air hostess the other day (mainly because I forgot and my Aunt trained to be one in the 1960s when it was considered very glam to do so) and I was shot down straight away. ‘It’s flight attendant,’ I was told. And firefighter. And Chairperson. I know that of course, but having grown up with the old terms, sometimes I forget.


  10. Ooooh!!! “Chairperson” just irks me!! Doesn’t anyone know anymore that the Sanskrit root of the word “man” means “to think”? So replacing “man” with “person” in that context removes the thinking part of the word and leaves it meaning that the person just sits in the chair. No wonder our companies are so bloody useless! They’ve removed the need to have thinkers at the head of the board.

    [oops. Sorry about the sudden urge to rant]


  11. DAOINE – please rant any time you feel the need to. What a great argument you present – explains a lot. Rodney Adler was a ‘chairperson’ wasn’t he? Ha ha.


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