Sunday, 19 May 2024

American Life in Poetry: Portrait of Pink, or Blush

Kwame Dawes. Courtesy photo.

Of course, the “elderly couple” in Adrienne Christian’s witty and tenderly observed poem “Portrait of Pink, or Blush,” likely, if they are like me, do not imagine themselves to be “elderly,” but what they will appreciate is the sensuality of Christian’s observation.

The delicate sentiment in the poem lies in the suggestion that it is Christian who may be the blushing voyeur at the end of the day, and that, of course, is lovely and generous.

Portrait of Pink, or Blush
By Adrienne Christian

when today at a bistro
an elderly couple in jeans, leather
bomber jackets, and heeled boots
stepped down from their stools
to stand and go home—

him behind her,
his bomber jacket zipper
a spine at her back,
him wrapping on her scarf

the heart-shaped cookie she nibbled
the shape of her mouth,
that cookie, puffy,
with still-soft icing white and rose—

I learned
the anthropology of blush

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by Adrienne Christian, “Portrait of Pink, or Blush” from All the Songs We Sing, Edited by Lenard D. Moore (Blair/Carolina Wren Press, 2020.) Introduction copyright ©2022 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.

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