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She Wore Red

The new woman puts on a bright red dress
the same dress you wore
the last night we went out together
just before your quiet cancer
stretched itself to its full strength.
Your joy of that evening permeates that red dress:
that tremendous performance
the electric air
the thunderous applause
the standing ovations
you walking unsteadily down the isle
to thank the director, tear s in your eyes
who bent over, took your hands in his
and kissed them.
That joy remained on her face
all the way home, waiting
in the drizzle for the bus
sitting on your walker under a red umbrella
whose color almost matched your dress.
The bus, when it finally arrives,
empty, we its only passengers
the driver our congenial chauffeur.
I had rarely seen you so possessed
such with happiness, certainly not on all
the year s we lived with your cancer
and never again.
Never again would we go out for pleasure
as if the play, the threatening humid weather, and
that red dress had combined for a final celebration.
And now I see that red dress
worn by the new woman.
My heart stops, I want
to tell her to take it off.
I tell her she looks beautiful.

published in Snapdragon Journal, Spring 2020

Raised in the slightly different cultures and occasionally uncomprehending cultures of New Jersey, Virginia, England, Peter Goodwin moved back to USA at age 18. He now lives in Chesapeake Bay where he appreciates natural rhythms and slower seasons.

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