The man I once knew

April 16, 2017

The men I once knew offered gifts,
like male penguins offering stones to a female
in the competition for courtship.
One offered a bag of lemons, bright and shiny,
still warm from the Mediterranean garden
where he plucked them. Another took me
on a boat. It had no life-jackets. We sailed
dangerously and I was sea-sick for days.
It’s no problem, he said, just watch the horizon.
The third kept painting me, Botticelli’s Venus,
he murmured, digging his brush
to the canvas, failing each time to find the line
that would match the line of my thigh.

Lemons. Life-jacket. My thigh.
We failed calamitously, we failed gloriously
too, and even now on any day,
I can’t say I ever felt ruined
by their attentions.
It was how we passed the time,
pleasantly.

Mary O’Donnell

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