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By Rita Dove

After all, there’s no need

to say anything


at first. An orange, peeled

and quartered, flares


like a tulip on a wedgewood plate

Anything can happen.


Outside the sun

has rolled up her rugs


and night strewn salt

across the sky. My heart


is humming a tune

I haven’t heard in years!


Quiet’s cool flesh—

let’s sniff and eat it.


There are ways

to make of the moment


a topiary

so the pleasure’s in


walking through.


Rita Dove, “Flirtation” from Museum (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1983). Copyright © 1983 by Rita Dove. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: The Poetry Anthology 1912-2002 (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2002)

  • Love
  • Relationships

Poet Bio

Rita Dove
The second African-American woman to be named Poet Laureate of the United States, and only the second to win a Pulitzer Prize for poetry (Thomas and Beulah, 1987), Rita Dove has achieved a great deal in her career.  Her multi-layered poems dramatize the stories of individuals both living and dead against the backdrop of larger historical forces.

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