19 March, 2009

Girl in red

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 [15]

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