14 December 2008 | Vol. 8, No. 4

Red-Haired Girl Wants You to Know

The sycamore mark on her inner thigh is a continent

about to divide itself into the angel

that sat in the votive light

of a fourteen year-old's cigarette, and the angel

that was never there

but for the inked tattoo of wings under each blade

of a bartender's shoulder. Behind her eyes

there is a jealous god—

one wild swirl in each iris, each center a mix of pitch

and Byzantium about to catch.

There is a remedy for all of this

or none of it. An old man's advice:

don't let a morning pass

without swallowing nine

gin-soaked golden raisins. Do this to keep

arthritis at bay.

Or for the hell of it.

While she wonders why the only man to tell her

what's sexier than nudity

was an art critic and not a lover. She detests

the way red-haired women morph

into whores, sinners, or fox fur

shawls with the heads left on. Look, when that girl stared Zeus down

in all his glory, her hair was all flame for a moment.

And it was worth it.

Then dust. Then a poppy field with its charred seeds

between silks with a scent that could bring

the gods to their knees.

About the author:

Anna Journey is the author of If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting (University of Georgia Press, 2009), winner of the National Poetry Series. She's currently a PhD candidate in creative writing and literature at the University of Houston, where she also serves as a poetry editor for Gulf Coast.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Anna Journey at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 8, No. 4, where "Red-Haired Girl Wants You to Know" ran on December 14, 2008. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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