Girl with a Red Ribbon by Terri Kirby Erickson

Girl with a Red Ribbon

Inspired by “The Red Ribbon,” by artist Abby Warman

This is not so much a girl standing on a sandy
beach, but the impression of a girl—

one who wears a white dress that is more
like a canvas upon which the rising sun paints

its roseate glow, its pale reflections of blue
water. She is carrying a straw hat and striped

towel. Tied in her hair is a bow the color of ripe
strawberries. Pausing in a pool of purple

meant to be her shadow, she is surrounded
by streaks of light as bright as an ivory gull’s

feathers. Yet, it is the rich, red ribbon that calls
to women who remember well the pull

and tug of tying, our mother’s hands as soft
as satin against the nape of our necks—how we,

impatient to be gone, barely felt them—would
give almost anything to feel them now.


Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of six collections of poetry, including A Sun Inside My Chest (Press 53), winner of the 2021 International Book Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared in “American Life in Poetry,” Asheville Poetry Review, Healing the Divide, How to Love the World, Poet’s Market, The Christian Century, The Sixty-Four: Best Poets of 2019, The Sun, The Writer’s Almanac, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and many more. Awards include the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and a Nautilus Silver Book Award. She lives in North Carolina.

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