Watery Red Ladies by Angela Petch

I sit beneath the shelter
Where the tossing, hissing, spitting spray
Is kept at bay.
I wait with rug across my knees,
Pencil poised to tie her down with words.
Nurse wants to wheel me to the warmth,
The fuddled, stale, urine warmth.
“You’ll catch your death out here,” she says.
I smile and slowly net my memories.

I watch you unpin your hair,
Unfurling like rolls of corn- gold silk,
And peel off your scarlet chemise,
Toss it to the breeze
And step into the waves.
Words waft wistfully as you waltz in the weed
That clings to bare, salt thighs.
You perform to the sun, the crimson, orange sinking
Sun that slips between the now and then.
Tell me what you sing so sad.

Watery red lady,
You flew upon the back of your blue eagle.
He spread his wings and scooped you high
From dew-grass where Philadelphus
Sprinkled perfumed petalled confetti promises.
He lies below a bed of barley in a Slavian valley
Beneath toad-flax and corncockle.
For his King but not for you.

How soon are the young become old
And the watery red ladies dance no more,
Save in the shadows at the sea’s edge,
Tell me what I sing so sad.


About Rosemary Noble

Writer, author, amateur historian and traveller
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