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OLIVIA P o e t
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Byard Email email@oliviabyard.com
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The crimson scarf

The Crimson Scarf



For my Mother


When I first kissed the puckered skin

that had been breast, it was to make you

better. We always kissed to make it better.


For a while you sported a crimson scarf -

a slash of colour defying dark and all its

weighty terrors. I weighed the false breast


in my hands and found it very heavy.

Later you would start to cry— I would not

know why, and grow impatient


with your passivity. In fact the ravages

had spread, and you, confined

to your sick bed, grew thinner by the day.


Soon death outstripped both clothes

and kisses. But I’ve kept your crimson scarf

with its powerful charm against the dark.



Olivia Byard







Originally published in Critical quarterly and Collected in Strange Horses 2011.


Later selected for The Wilding Eye 2015.




The crimson  scarf