A study in red hair
by Penn Kemp

If it were juice, a light cranberry tinged with grape.
If wine, a sauterne, a bubbling rosé. If essential oil
neroli, the taste of tangerine. If scent, what the wind

carries from May blossoms, hawthorn and lilac, lily
of the valley intermingled, a confusion of delight
ripe and ready to turn from cinnamon to ash-grey.

A vibration beyond ultraviolet, where illusions of
colour shape to rainbow possibles glint between
memories, strawberry blonde aging well to white.

Auburn, chestnut, carrot, scarlet, flame. Hey, Red!

PHOTO: A recent photo of the author.

Photo Credit: Creighton Studios, Toronto.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem describes the colours my own mane has gone through, from infancy. My Grade Seven Teacher, Miss Morgan, told me decades later that she sat me in the window aisle so that the she could enjoy the sun shining on my hair. It was strawberry blond turning auburn then; it’s now turning grey. I like how the senses interpret colour as taste and scent in this poem, a kind of synaesthesia. No sound, though.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: London, Ontario, performance poet, activist and playwright Penn Kemp is a Life Member of the League of Canadian Poets and their 2015 Spoken Word Artist of the Year. As Writer-in-Residence for Western University, her project was the DVD Luminous Entrance: a Sound Opera for Climate Change Action, Pendas Productions. Her latest works are two chapbooks for the Feminist Caucus Archives of the League of Canadian Poets: Performing Women and Women and Multimedia. Forthcoming is a new collection of poetry, Barbaric Cultural Practice as well as a play, The Triumph of Teresa Harris.