Woman in Red

Poem for an Unseen Woman

    I thought of you

   wearing red and looking at your face

        in the lake water that covered 

     your bare feet

       that lapped at your ankles

     that reached for your calves

 and wished for the waving hem of your

           yellow flowered sun dress

        I was standing behind you

   where the sand agreed with the pavement 

       where the flowers were real

     where the water does not reach

    until the wind wants chaos and 

        time for sun dresses   has passed 

except for in photographs.

      You left your sandals 

     just ahead of where I am settled in

   my back was turned 

         my interest was caught up in 

     things that I can’t recall just now

     I heard the tumbling of them fall

    I caught a shadow leaving you walking 

          it stretched and circled over asphalt 

      then grass   then sand  and rejoined you

  at the water’s edge

          then it was swallowed in a rippling wave of white bubbles and dark water 

      that ran against the caramel skin 

    of your legs


    now I’m waiting for you to turn

     not fully around

    just   waiting for a shift of your head

       out of the afternoon sun

     just a tilt    a taste of skin toward dry land

       I’m holding my breath 

     I’m counting the flowers of your dress

    I’m turning that same shade of red

         in your windbreaker 

     I’m telling myself 

           to pick up your sandals 

       I’m hoping to exchange them 

     for a smile

once I finally see your face

Jas Mardis

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