Little Red Riding Hood was my first love, I felt that if I could have married her, I should have known perfect bliss - Charles Dickens
I was born to a mother in mourning.
The mood in our house was black
as soft tar at the edges of pevements
I stirred with a stick.
Red was my favourite colour:
scarlet, vermilion, ruby.
At school I painted a red girl in a red wood.
'Trees are green,' the teacher said.
So I painted them green
and she said, 'Red and green clash.'
But I wanted them to clash.
I wanted cymbals, trumpets,
all the noises of rowdy colour
to drown the silence of black.
I got my mother to make me a scarlet dress.
(I didn't care that Grandma said
it made me look like a tart.)
I stole a lipstick -
the sizzling vermilion
that made boys and old men look.
I squeezed into ruby high heels
that on hot days filled with blood.
I drank tumblers of pink gin
and told my sister (sent to spy on me)
it was Cherryade.
I dreamed in red: scarlet, vermilion, ruby.
And now I dream in black.
From The book of blood by Vicki Feaver