Sometimes a craving comes for salt, not sweet,
For fruits that you can eat
Only if pickled in a vat of tears
A rich and dark and indehiscent meat
Clinging tightly to the pit on spears
Of toothpicks, maybe, drowned beneath a tide
Of vodka and vermouth,
Rocking at the bottom of a wide,
Shallow, long-stemmed glass, and gentrified;
Or rustic, on a plate cracked like a tooth
A miscellany of the humble hues
Brown greens and purple browns, the blacks and blues
That chart the slow chromatics of a bruise
Washed down with swigs of barrel wine that stab
The palate with pine-sharpness. They recall
The harvest and its toil,
The nets spread under silver trees that foil
The blue glass of the heavens in the fall
Daylight packed in treasuries of oil,
Paradigmatic summers that decline
Like singular archaic nouns, the troops
Of hours in retreat. These fruits are mine
Small bitter drupes
Full of the golden past and cured in brine.
A. E. Stallings
The New Criterion
Copyright © 2006 by The Foundation for
Cultural Review, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.