by Robert Hass

If I said—remembering in summer,
The cardinal’s sudden smudge of red
In the bare gray winter woods—

If I said, red ribbon on the cocked straw hat
Of the girl with pooched-out lips
Dangling a wiry lapdog
In the painting by Renoir—

If I said fire, if I said blood welling from a cut—

Or flecks of poppy in the tar-grass scented summer air
On a wind-struck hillside outside Fano—

If I said, her one earring tugging at her silky lobe,

If she tells fortunes with a deck of fallen leaves
Until it comes out right—

Rouged nipple, mouth—

(How could you not love a woman
Who cheats at the Tarot?)

Red, I said. Sudden, red.


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