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A Bowl of Fruit

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When I think of that room
I see the de Kooning at the end of the hall

Sometimes rain on the long windows
Or the tinkering of drops on the skylight

But not Yvon
Splashing Scotch into a cocktail glass

Otherwise fastidious—

In retrospect
I should have asked her more

About the famous jazz guitarist
She had been engaged to

But that much was true—

Even after she bought me a pocket knife
Sheathed in velvet

Every young man needs a knife
She informed her group

But in the restaurant her friends
Eyed me like a turnip. One that talked—

While she was away at her office,
I tried to read

Her unfinished essay
On the vagaries of diplomacy

Reclining
On a rug of embroidered storks

The two small Rodins
Seemed misplaced

A grand piano
She didn’t play

(though I did, affecting a controlled
passion

while gazing over rooftops
at carefully maintained gardens)—

I don’t remember her smell

I don’t recall her fingers

The last I heard she was living in Barcelona

She never did learn to cook

Now her letters are worth money


Source: Poetry (February 2010)

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This poem originally appeared in the February 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

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A Bowl of Fruit

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