“She is Still Red”

My mom was red.
She had pale skin, wore red lipstick.
I have a snapshot of her wearing a red hooded coat
In the snow.
She smoked Camel cigarettes
Lit them with a flash of red fire.
I remember the red smell
When she would smoke after supper
and she would tell me stories
about when she was little
and her aunts sent her to the store to buy their cigs
(they were flappers in the 20s — they probably wore red).

Once at the table she said,
At work today I had to fire a girl.
I gasped, No!
Before she could explain it
I pictured the girl’s hair catching fire
And then her clothes
There were times Mom was angry enough
You’d figure she could do it
Slamming cupboard doors,
Throwing a perfume bottle at a bat
(it killed him)
Leaving my father when I was 13
Saying, “Get off my back!”

She was warm red too.
Between me and my brother and her
We have a code word
“Rhooger!” which means
I want to hold you in a warm red hug.
I still have her furry red bathrobe
I bury my face in it when I miss her.

I have her crystal hanging in my window
Casting rainbows on the wall
She is still red.

About The Poem

The above poem, by Margalea Warner, was featured by The Daily Palette of the University of Iowa on 10 Nov 2006. [View] The poem as it was originally shared on the web is shown below.

About The Daily Palette

“After fourteen years and nearly 5000 editions of The Daily Palette, we share news of the end of its active publication. We are currently working on a permanent home for its archive. For now the archive is accessible and we invite you to search through its vast collection. I am deeply grateful to all of the University of Iowa student researchers who have helped coordinate the project, as well as to the administrators and technical staff whose support have made the ‘Palette’ an enduring element of the University’s arts and humanities scholarship. Most of all I am grateful to the thousands of artists we have had the honor to showcase, and to the Palette’s hundreds of thousands of visitors over the years. Thank you for your contributions, for your encouragement and for your support.” ~ Jon Winet, Daily Palette Director, 15 Sep 2018 [Source]

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