Natasha Trethewey

6. Tableau

At breakfast, the scent of lemons,
just picked, yellowing on the sill.
At the table, a man and woman.

Between them, a still life:
shallow bowl, damask plums
in one square of morning light.

The woman sips tea
from a chipped blue cup, turning it,
avoiding the rough white edge.

The man, his thumb pushing deep
toward the pit, peels taut skin
clean from plum flesh.

The woman watches his hands,
the pale fruit darkening
wherever he’s pushed too hard.

She is thinking seed, the hardness
she’ll roll on her tongue,
a beginning. One by one,

the man fills the bowl with globes
that glisten. Translucent, he thinks.
The woman, now, her cup tilting

empty, sees, for the first time,
the hairline crack
that has begun to split the bowl in half.