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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


The peach was lush

I hadn’t slept for days

it was like velvet lips a lamp

he smiled


the bed for me

I knew it was in fact

the only room the only bed

The peach


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


tips only touch-

ing only it Not in

or out I stayed in the doorway


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


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 (Poetry Foundation, 1999)

  • Activities

Poet Bio

Jennifer Tonge
Born in Salt Lake City, Jennifer Tonge received an MFA from the University of Utah. She has taught creative writing at the Universities of Utah, Wisconsin, and Texas as well as at Butler University.  She has served as poetry editor of Quarterly West, as president of Writers at Work, on the board of City Art, and as associate editor at Dawn Marano and Associates. See More By This Poet

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