Woman and Apple
– on a painting by Rachael McCampbell
Viewer, I may seem exposed, or,
let’s be blunt, naked—even so,
this story belongs to me.
Look to the Northeast, those coppery
brushstrokes, how they hint
at shadow and flesh, bent knee, foot
peddling forward—Man who Exits
the Scene as if pulled
toward what happens next.
But he’s not the same man who arrived
from some whereabouts, blinking
in the changed light, straining
to decipher my form;
he’s been re-configured, re-thought.
And something took place here, beyond
the frame of your knowing.
Note that my face conveys history,
the roil of slow-turning secrets,
while his form means only departure.
My feet languish in the spill
of heated snow, warmed-up rain,
seven degrees cooler than my skin.
This means something.
You regard yourself as intelligent—
explain it to yourself.
And you’ve mastered a bit of French:
Ceci n’est pas une pipe.
So of course there’s no apple,
just the bare, see-through idea
of apple. But did you know it’s a herring
(and slippery), a false lead?
In fact I’m dreaming of another fruit.
(Think autumn, crimson,
underworld. It does not peel.)
Meanwhile, in a painting nearby,
something’s stopped—the small pump,
weight of a tongue tip, in a bird’s chest.
The body falls, wing over
wing, searing a line through the air
only a bird’s eye could see.
Dressed One, One Who Nods
and Moves On, did you imagine
I’d reveal myself to you?
• • •
Suzanne Lummis’ poems have appeared in excellent literary publications across the U.S., in the UK Guardian, and in The New Yorker. She has published three collections of poetry, most recently Open 24 Hours, and has written about poetry and film noir for The Los Angeles Review of Books and other publications. poetry.la produces her YouTube series, They Write by Night, which draws together noir-themed poems and film noir.
“Woman and Apple” was previously published in Levure littéraire.