THE RED SHAWL by Anne Campbell

July 19, 2016

The soft wool hugs my shoulders
each stitch a connection in the intricate design.
Red, the colour she said I should wear,
her harsh voice
willfully denying my chosen greens and blues.
“That lipstick’s too pale on you,” she’d say, while sporting a livid magenta
that matched the dress that didn’t suit her either.

Fifty years before, she’d forced friendship on me, daily stepping across the shared
landing and knocking at my door.
Both students, bent under the weight of studies snatched from chores that only
women did in the unliberated sixties,
husbands gone all waking hours; I gave up and asked  her in for coffee.
Remaining ‘friends’ though continents apart, through births, divorces,
cross-country moves, hard won degrees and many years, we met again.
My friend was still abrasive, acerbic, critical,
but fifty years of history shared,
remembered stories of our earlier lives,
had knit a prickly mesh of tough support.
Daily now, I wish she were still alive and I could tell her
how much I enjoy her gift of red
these chill, grey northern mornings.


Born and raised in London, Anne Campbell worked as a fashion sketcher before immigrating to the States in her early twenties. She lived in California and New York before settling in Minnesota, where she has worked as a university lecturer and psychotherapist.

Ms. Campbell is the published author of four novels and a memoir.


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