Edgings for a dress was all. Collar to color, to frame my face. I did not know lace would be my marke.
I wanted more than dormant sheep’s fleece, more than sky gone winter drab, fringed wings of battered moths.
I wanted my hem indigo, like the bay’s swales and crumpled winds. (I wanted to be a bereft sailor’s harbor.)
You accuse my lace of wickedness— too short, not fit for any uce. I only wanted threshed flax threads
reddened with carmine and mordant. But you do that Devil’s work— the chosen hue fixing God’s material.
Your carmine color comes from the female cochineal, a bug bound for life to one nopal cactus while the male flies away.
I am not surprised the cochineal pulses red acid through her abdomen. I am not surprised that Spanish fleets slash seas
and seize the new world to prey on wingless crimson insects that dye our costumes with their bodies.
Like a shield, I wear my lacy bodice the color of John’s orchard under moon-encumbered fear. He said he saw
the red Devil and me. He said we shook the trees, felled his ripe apples to the ground. He said I flew away.
Ellie A. Rogers writes in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is a poetry editor at The Hopper. You can read her recent work in The Cincinnati Review, Cold Mountain Review, and Ecotone, or at elliearogers.com. Header photo by Olga Engar, courtesy Shutterstock.