Deborah DeNicola

(Richland, Washington)

Gauguin's Red


in the sculpted mantle to his hut. Scarlet
saris on the brown-skinned women,
of course. Terracotta dust he recalls from graves
in Pere La Chaise. Roses on the Left Bank, red
grillwork at a brasserie on Montparnasse.
Copper verdigris against a menstrual sunset.
Ominous red of mythic gods, the tongues of their lust,
their potent erections — primitive red
of his bloodshot eyes. Red scabs
on his gangrened foot. Syphilis-red. Red
of rolled tobacco and eucalyptus ash. Jasmine
on the Christian hillside where he was buried
in his thin red tie, his ruddy life a story
of not knowing how to go, or when, or why...
His pagan body lies beneath a crucifix against
blue sky, both putrefied and purified at once.
Sepia red. Voodoo red. Like the foxglove petals
his lover set on the headstone
to counterpoint that remorseless cross.

Submitted: Wednesday, July 09, 2014

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