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Peach

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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 (Poetry Foundation, 1999)

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This poem originally appeared in the February 1999 issue of Poetry magazine

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Peach

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  • Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Jennifer Tonge received an MFA from the University of Utah. Tonge’s poetry has been anthologized in Rising Phoenix (2004) and Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English (2000). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Quarterly West, Poetry, Ploughshares, New England Review, and Bellingham Review.
     
    The recipient of fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Ucross Foundation, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Tonge 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@Work, on the board of City Art, and as associate editor at Dawn Marano and Associates.

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