Dark Red

Winter, 2014–2015 / No. 34

Cherries in my grandma’s yard,

the trim around her windows,

the cistern cap. Safe house.

The less common trillium:

Trillium erectum, wake-robin, stinking Benjamin,

birth root, abortionist.

My preference in lipstick.

Rock lichen. Girls’ knees.

The binding of my first bible,

though I wanted black like the men.

The peeling skin on the barn I’d stare at as a child,

thinking, What if nothing at all existed?

Nothing is its own colour, exiled.

The first time I smelled my own blood

and every time since.

Very few gemstones.

A cold and heavy steak before cooking.

The deck paint on the first home I owned.

The wet gore of what I wrote there.

The parrot’s tail feathers and how I know

he will flaunt your voice after you die.

The faux-Moroccan lamp’s glass panels.

Antarctica’s primordial glaciers.

The stains I scrubbed from the floor

after the cops took my mother again.

All of my guilt, wineglass after wineglass.

A moon I imagine looming

over the apprehensive lake.