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Sample Poems by Michele Reese

Eating a Peach in Monte Carlo

On a bench near a pond
away from the casino

I mouth a peach.
Hunger tears down to the nut-like core,
which I split.

Marveling at the inner seed
I wonder how edible it could be.

Before this curiosity overwhelms my lips
my parents return:
one making up for the other?s loss.

I don?t remember which.
Years later my mom remembers

that my dad promised ice cream
if I waited in the park
while they gambled.

My dad forgets promises
as I suppose everyone does.

The Poem I Didn?t Write When I Was Eight

After passing castles stuck
on hillsides and having spent so much time
on trains, we paused for
a week in Nice

and summer became normal:
I could cup mounds of sand
into imaginary castles.

At the rocky seaside,
my father pretended to take pictures
of me, my bikini bottom and beach ball.

It was only make-believe.
In the photos, I can?t see past
the tanned French breasts.

Somewhere in the background I?m there
with the sea. The reverberation of the waves reached up
to our hotel room where I accidentally wedged wood
from the floor into my thumb.

He always wanted to touch things that hurt,
so I closed the door because I didn?t want to be touched  
while stripping my skin with a sewing needle.

Later, I peeked through the slats of the door to watch him.
He slept without underwear in light blue satin pajamas.

Jamaica, 1994

I learned to collect rain,
flush toilets by lifting a bucket
and letting water cascade.

Night air heaped
itself on my shoulders
as I stepped off the plane.

An aunt picked me up,
the jeep wound about unlighted
streets until I was again at the wobbly
yellow table staring down
at a hand of cards,
conversation flapping
around my head.

Everyone was too
calm when the power went out.
The gas lanterns only brought moths
to the darkness.

My mother slept in her father?s bed,
because she was the oldest daughter,
and he had died.

 Following Phia

With a Campari haze settling over the sound,
we pedal along a thin strip of sand.
Looking back, she says through the distance
that a bike with a bottle of wine
in the basket suits me.

She leads me to the road
and then into pine.
My toes feel too far from earth.
I tremble around corners
and slide off the seat to stop.

I stare at the curve of her
shoulders imprinted by the afternoon sun.
Over the grass she shakes towels and folds
them over a clothesline. We take turns
in the shower, and I know I don?t want to share her.

In the pulsing push of a nightclub, I clutch
the white cotton of her sleeve,
not her hand,
wanting to be mothered
and not wanting to be lost.

Turtleback Farm

While sharing seafood tapas
on the dining patio we watch
grey fog stretch over the evergreens
as green, yellow, and purple passionflowers
unfold in a vase.

Stairs lush with nasturtiums and roses
lead us to a crystal doorknob.

From the bed?s pillows,
she removes a stuffed bunny
hand-sewn by an old lady one winter,
then immerses herself in the Tale of Genji;
I fall asleep holding her hand.

In the morning, we climb the tower.
Through the settling mist the Northwest cascades:

the snow-cone of Mt. Baker;
the Olympics; through Seattle?s smog and
civilization, ?The Octopus.?
As she points, her red scarf
flutters in chilled wind.

The ferry blasts its departure.