It is not red, she has read,
But wine mixed crimson in a goblet
Or the radiance of saffron
Or the midnight black of ink.
And if red, then red
Like the pricked finger of an unwed lad
Pointing at the one he desires.
As she slaps at her lice-ridden hair.
A solemn merchant in black gabardine
Frowns upon his choice.
He stands before a slaughtered ox
And speaks of olives, ravens, pitch.
They say that blood is born of brute desire.
She weeps in an orchard of pomegranates
Redolent of autumn — and defeat.
Their leaf-fringed legend haunts about her shape.