Better red than…

Standard

The Problem of Describing Color
Robert Hass

If I said – remembering in summer,
The cardinal’s sudden smudge of red
In the bare gray winter woods –

If I said, red ribbon on the cocked straw hat
Of the girl with pooched-out lips
Dangling a wiry lapdog
In the painting by Renoir –

If I said fire, if I said blood welling from a cut –

Or flecks of poppy in the tar-grass scented summer air
On a wind-struck hillside outside Fano –

If I said, her one red earring tugging at her silky lobe,

If she tells fortunes with a deck of fallen leaves
Until it comes out right –

Rouged nipple, mouth –

(How could you not love a woman
Who cheats at the Tarot?)

Red, I said. Sudden, red.

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