Peach By Jennifer Tonge

         Come here’s
a peach he said
         and held it out just far
enough to reach beyond his lap
         and off-

         ered me
a room the one
         room left he said in all
of Thessaloniki that night
         packed with

         traders
The peach was lush
         I hadn’t slept for days
it was like velvet lips a lamp
         he smiled

         patted
the bed for me
         I knew it was in fact
the only room the only bed
         The peach

         trembled
and he said Come
         nodding to make me
agree I wanted the peach and
         the bed

         he said
to take it see
         how nice it was and I
thought how I could take it ginger-
         ly my

         finger-
tips only touch-
         ing only it Not in
or out I stayed in the doorway
         watching

         a fly
He stroked the peach
         and asked where I was from
I said the States he smiled and asked
         how long

         I’d stay
The fly had found
         the peach I said I’d leave
for Turkey in the morning I
         wanted

         so much
to sleep and on
         a bed I thought of all
the ways to say that word
         and that

         they must
have gradient
         meanings He asked me did
I want the peach and I said sure
         and took

         it from
his hand He asked
         then if I’d take the room
It costs too much I said and turned
         to go

         He said
to stay a while
         and we could talk The sun
was going down I said no thanks
         I’d head

         out on
the late train but
         could I still have the peach
and what else could he say to that
         but yes

Jennifer Tonge, “Peach” from Poetry (February 1999). Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Poetry (February 1999).

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