“Red” by Laura Cherry
After six straight days of snow,
she is ready for a reason to leave,
any reason. So she gathers her currants,
her walnuts, her heavy wheat flour
and bakes loaf after brown loaf
from that sharp need. Now the things
you know: the covered basket, the cloak,
the path almost erased by white.
Her prints the only ones. Her breath
in its hanging clouds. Berries
jewel the bracken, beautiful poison.
Into this stillness who’d bring a stranger?
With what ardor will he rend her quiet?
A cardinal lands to appraise
the encounter, then flashes wings
in bright haste. Abandoned, disturbed,
she finds what’s left of the path. Shakes
new snow from her basket, fans a coal
in her chest. Starts again. Somewhere ahead,
a house leaks its thread of gray smoke.
Laura Cherry is the author of the collection Haunts (Cooper Dillon Books) and the chapbooks Two White Beds (Minerva Rising) and What We Planted (Providence Athenaeum). She co-edited the anthology Poem, Revised (Marion Street Press). Her work has been published or is forthcoming in journals, including Hartskill Review, Antiphon, Los Angeles Review, Cider Press Review, Tuesday; An Art Project, and H_NGM_N.
Photo Credit: Staff