Anne de Haas

The Red Poem

by Eileen Berry

This horrible but superb painting
the parable of the blind
without a red
in the composition...

William Carlos Williams

Is there a poetry of red heard by the blind?

Percussion of red, resonant, redolent,

potent red,

that marks a red shift in the stars, feels

lichened touch on stone, litmus of the bone,

alizarin's taste on the tongue?

Deep, deep red, red that feeds all the senses,

red that is all of redness.

Cardinal, sensuous Roman red, ancient

velvet red-dark scent of roses.

Drumbeat sounds of red, red pepper

burning the throat.

Red that baits the bull.

Lucky, joyful red, slithering, soft, Chinese

wedding silks, exhilarating blood-red wine.

Treacherous red of poppies and poison berries.

Crimson, carmine, cerise, cayenne,

safflower, scarlet, vermillion.

All the dangerous, warning, compelling, ripening,

happy, fortunate words for red.

Red thoughts becoming red words in language

Prometheus stole with fire from the gods.

First published in The Licking River Review , Vol. 32, 2000-01.

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