At the gallery

In the neutral light, on walls the tone of driftwood bleached by salt and sun, the canvas shook us like a shout of jubilance and vast surprise: crimson, orange, desert-beige and yellow, with a slash of blue like shadow-angles on the peaks of mountains shouldering the dawn. We stood in silence, letting all that color take us on its tide through timeless seasons. Then, a voice from near the door, a woman's voice, said languidly: ''What does it mean?'' Ah, meaning! the familiar hook on which to hang things tidily in cupboards of neat comprehension. Truth, beauty, wonder, mystery, confound our labels, invariably lose in the translation.

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