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

Biography

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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Poem Categorization

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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