(for Irina Ratushinskya)
by Pat Jourdan
The poem written in the police-station was the most heinous crime of all; to want a red dress was to deny sisterhood. All women were to be plain, clothes worn alike in drab. A dash of scarlet could incite emotions, could draw attention. The women of Aran knew it before you, how their men would pick up that crimson clue from several fields away. Teeming rain, Atlantic’s worst, libido crushed by want, by damp, the race would die out but for that taunting red,
its disobedient signal.
Your poem said the same.
Staggering out of prison,
here in the store-room are parcels
with strange shapes – red dresses,
different sizes, shapes, dealing with flesh
and that crimson ribbon of life
you hauled in with your words,
taunting the drabness to explain its meaning.
Copyright © 2020 Pat Jourdan
When Irina Ratushinskya was released from the Russian labour camps,
a collection of red dresses from all over the world had been posted to
the prison authorities.
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