Shining Rock Poetry Anthology

"Red Dress" by Sarah Arvio

It's wrong to live wrong   I was thinking this
and wringing my hands   I wrung my hands

Wasn't it right to live right   and to write
about the right life   rather than living wrong

and writing about the wrong life   Which is
righter which is wronger   The thing is

if you have the wrong life   you don't want
to tell   thinking always that somehow you

will right it   Righting and writing it's a kind
of redress   a new dress I'll put on when I

rewrite my life   I'll run out and get it now
while there's still time   a red dress for joy

a red dress for redress   and I'll dress you
down as I walk out the door   You'll ring

and ring but I won't rush back   I won't
write back   You'll be right and I'll be
wronged and that's what I'll tell if I get
the time   but not to you   you won't be told

You can read my redress in the papers
I'll be out on the town in my red dress

"Red Dress" from CRY BACK MY SEA by Sarah Arvio. Copyright © 2021 by Sarah Arvio. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC, New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Sarah Arvio's most recent books of poetry are Cry Back My Sea (2021), and night thoughts: 70 dream poems & notes from an analysis (2013), a hybrid of poetry, memoir and essay.   She has also done a new translation of poems by Federico García Lorca, entitled Poet in Spain (2017).   All out from Alfred A. Knopf.

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