Fly for me again. Fill my eyes with a breast
so scarlet robins sob. Only you are photo luscious,
Richmondena Cardinalis, crowned with a crest,
body the color of mythical vampire tears,
poppies, dying stars, things kissed away.

At first, I believed you a Hibiscus blossom,
a stigmata shining in snow, the white
intensifying red, held to the branch with the
petite claw of my thoughts. But no flower
ever fell, then flew, blurring its own shape.

How can I call you back? If I paint my nails,
lips, cheeks red, will you come to me the way
you fly to a faithful mate, love her for her red
parts: beak, crest, tail tips, feathered wings?
And if there’s a difference in the scents of

redheads, brunettes, and blondes, and if
I dye my hair red, will you seek me like
ripened fruit, or offer me the faith of
mustard seeds? Surely something mystical
propels your heart, flies your wings.

Red isn’t granted without merit. If God lives in
the color red, as Rumi said, let me hold you
in my hand. Be my pope’s holy slipper,
the fluttering hem of a cardinal’s caudatorio.
You, my high priest of direction, my red prayer.

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About the Author

Carolyn Dahl is the 2020 winner of the Poetry of the Plains and Prairies chapbook contest for A Muddy Kind of Love, which will be published by North Dakota State University. Her 2019 chapbook, Art Preserves What Can’t Be Saved, was a first place winner in the National Federation of Press Women’s Communication contest, the Press Women of Texas’ contest, and also received an Honorable Mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards.

Carolyn Dahl
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