Got married in red
velvet. Not bright like a clown
nose but like blackened
cherry, old blood. Grandma
warned: Marry in red, you’re better
off dead. At birth

he breathed 30 fragments
of air & like steam from a tea
kettle disappeared. Bright birth
on the floor. Cheap
apartment carpet red. Theater
curtains the shade
of vermillion & dust. Rust
on the Blazer red. Mom

delighted in the streaks
of a cardinal flitting
in the hospice courtyard
through the bending
willows. I remember the gift
of her last hours, how she stared
at the scarlet sunset before the morphine
trance. Electric shock

of divorce after 40. Then red
hues that birthed
comforts. I said yes
to crawdads in the shiny
vat, the eruption of flame
maple & beetroot. Lucky
as a bloodred cornsnake
who sheds her vermillion
skindress, I stake

my claim. I breathe. I am
not Plath. I’m no Sexton
or Woolf. Though I stumble still 
into mudslides of heavy
heartedness I gather
myself like a disheveled
bouquet, red
tinged petals