A Romance

By Lucia Perillo Lucia Perillo
I saw a child set down her binder like a wall
through the candy bin at the Corner Luncheonette
so she could scoop out gum while she spoke to the clerk—

and from that moment was in love: Oh theft.

College was supposed to straighten me
like a bent tree strangled by a wire,
but being done with sweetness I could not resist the lure of meat.

How the red muscle gleamed in its shiny wrap,
a wedge that had once been the thigh or the loin
of a slow brute’s body, sugar-dirt and clotted grass

to be snatched in an instant
and zipped into the crone-y-est of pocketbooks.
Radiance housed in rawhide again, as when it was living.

A steak can be stuck in your jeans when you’re skinny,
a rump roast is right for a puffy down coat,
small chops will fit under a thin peasant blouse

where it falls off the breasts
like a woodland rive
with a limestone amphitheater underneath.

Ancient city, ancient sublet, ancient wooden fire escape—
with my other bandits I learned to say how-de-do in French.
We were yanking on the cord that would start the motor of our lives

though we did not have the choke adjusted yet.

Sometimes it seemed I floated in the dregs like a tea bag
bloating up with facts.
Until a girl ran in the door, panting hard, face red,

slab thudding
from her snowflake-damasked waist onto the table,
and we stood around it gawking at the way it seemed to breathe.

Lucia Perillo, “A Romance” from Inseminating the Elephant. Copyright © 2009 by Lucia Perillo. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Source: Inseminating the Elephant (Copper Canyon Press, 2009)

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Poet Lucia Perillo

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Living, Coming of Age, Activities, Eating & Drinking, Social Commentaries

 Lucia  Perillo


Lucia Perillo is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Dangerous Life (1989), which won the Norma Farber Award from the Poetry Society of America; The Body Mutinies (1996), winner of the Kate Tufts prize from Claremont University; The Oldest Map with the Name America (1999); Luck is Luck (2005), which was a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize and won the Kingsley Tufts prize from Claremont University; . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, Activities, Eating & Drinking, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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