By Mary Ruefle
Purple sadness is the sadness of classical music and egg-
plant, the stroke of midnight, human organs, ports cut off
for part of every year, words with too many meanings, in-
cense, insomnia, and the crescent moon. It is the sadness
of play money, and icebergs seen from a canoe. It is pos-
sible to dance to purple sadness, though slowly, as slowly
as it takes to dig a pit to hold a sleeping giant. Purple sad-
ness is pervasive, and goes deeper into the interior than
the world's greatest nickel deposits, or any other sadness
on earth. It is the sadness of depositories, and heels echo-
ing down a long corridor, it is the sound of your mother
closing the door at night, leaving you alone.
This poem is from My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016). There is an author's note at the end of the book which reads: "In each of the color pieces, if you substitute the word happiness for the word sadness, nothing changes." I don't know if I agree that nothing changes but I agree the substitution still makes for very good poems.