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The Problem of Describing Color


                 "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


                 If I said, her one red 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."

                    Robert Hass

                           From Time and Materials:

                           Poems 1997-2005


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