Early Red Bride
I was born baldly red, fed maraschino cherries
and strawberries – real Florida strawberries
red to the tip and half a hand big – I got
Red Eye swimming at the lake, ate Red Hots
at the movies Saturday afternoons oh I wore
a red hibiscus in my hair and in a halter dress
did jitterbug under strung lanterns
of the schoolyard. Under the turning mirrored
globe of the ballroom, in my red
velvet sheath dress I slow-danced,
and so married, still in my teens, and rubies
hung in my long-pierced ears.
(First published in Chester H. Jones Foundation National Poetry Competition Winners 1989.