the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Marion Brown

Self-Portrait as Red Delicious

Unless you seize a wire, press down and slice,
you'll never see my figured core,

needlepoint seeds arrayed on center. Or toss me
on the compost heap to suck

heat and burst in a froth of pulp, sour
as I was sweet.

You picked me ripe and bulging my skin.
You picked me when.

Anomie and apple in lacquered skin, house-
wife's Valentine of pale secrets, do you imagine
I address myself to you?


A Woman Seated Beside a Vase of Flowers
after the painting by Edgar Degas

Not dowdy but wrapped tight in brown,
the tone of her face, a woman turns a dull
shoulder to the carnival bouquet that weighs
against her arm. Display attracts pollinators
humming with sex, but these pinwheels are fall
flowers, the last blue fireworks. Pitcher
half-emptied, hat on, where to next?
Bemused eyes, a loose hand props her cheek
and disguises her mouth, that twist
of lemon. Brown becomes her, nearly
invisible in that hue. If you sit by me,
sit. Don't pour turbid confidences
on my soil. See how I am self-possessed.
No tears water me. I won't flower again.



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