After her father’s death she needed

a new bag, a red one, ‘a particular red.’,

She searched, described the colour:

not the brown red jasper, carnelian

or sardonyx, stoic like stale blood,

the fire red of scarlet, zircon,

flaming fluorite flames of hell.


Not caring for dark rose, blood red rose,

rosewood or even a rose itself,

she continued her pursuit, not magenta,

garnet, or even red topaz –

too dark, they felt murky, dim,

even vermilion looked too dainty.

Everyone tried – salespeople,


traders, desperate to sell,

appease and please, ‘No’ she said,

‘No’. She needed this bag,

this exact bag, the colour specific

in her mind.

Not jasper, fire opal or sard – although

patterns are appealing – not opaque,


chalcedony stones of the high priestess’s

breastplate. Merlot felt obscure, shadowy,

and too rich. She bought red shoes,

tourmaline, not quelling her longing;

this bag, colour, stone, haunted

her travels, she needed to find it.

Crimson could suffice, virtually


there, this hunt could leave her bereft.

She explained that the red orange of

carnelian felt weak, it would not carry

her identity –a woman now – and the pink

red agate, amaranth and coral seemed

too youthful. Still in her prime,

the extremely rare beryl appeared


exceedingly old, barn red burgundy

like lava, too strong. Salmon although

elegant, robust, was fragile and flaky

when cooked, orange red amber

could calm. Tired in search of her red,

unable to unearth that colour, the search

for red defied her. She gave up.


Her friend called. Just back from holiday,

she had found the perfect bag – Imperial Red.

Within, her gift, an antique ring, gold,

with a red stone: fire ruby.

Red Rose

The Woman in Waterside House

I have no reason to trust sympathy,

when I tell you I hid for thirteen

days, waiting for marks to disappear.

I’m asked if I provoked him:

the guards, call the beating,

‘a domestic’,


social workers, and welfare,

insist boxes be ticked.

Slight disgust in their faces.

‘Even so, when you’re leaving,

look for maintenance’

and then the forms, and forms,

and the council informs me

the waiting list is years long.


And the judge doesn’t want to know,

Perpetrators, he says, have rights.”

He convinced me

that I cannot live without him,

I am nothing and no one cares.


I’m alone.

I cannot leave.

Easier to pretend my life

is full, than to face the shame

in your eyes, mine,

and the shame of the world,

when you are a woman with a fist over your face.

By Attracta Fahy.

For Simple Practice Consultation