David Jordan
Scarlet Woman

I bought my shy wife a nightgown for her birthday.
I had little money, knew nothing about cloth, so the nightgown
was cheap and flimsy, but it whispered to me in passion’s voice.
It was scarlet.  Lacy at the chest and neck.  Diaphanous.
When she slipped it on, the shadow of her body, pale, enticing,
shimmered through a cloud of scarlet.
We made love, nightgown bunched at her breasts, slid into sleep
entwined in damp embrace.  Rising from bed next morning,
she hesitated, opened the nightgown, peered inside.
Oh, she whispered.  Oh, no.  I looked up from my pillow.  
I’m all red, she said, lifting the gown.  Streaks of scarlet
trailed down her body, across tiny breasts, over sloping belly,
along slender legs, creeks of red slicing soft, milky countryside.
I laughed.  Tears leaped to her cheeks.  She dashed off,
locked herself in the bathroom.  I knocked, tried to apologize.
The shower hissed to life.  She washed away every trace
of scarlet woman, tossed my nightgown in the trash.
The marriage lasted five years.