Diane Wakoski

Eating a Plum on the Terrace

This plum is something I never tasted when I was pregnant
with no husband.
It tastes the way my hands feel when
I hold them against my lover’s tentacled muscles
at night, the curves that yield with sea urchin sweetness.
This still taut plum
is the color of raw squid skin, and its interior
tightly soft
like a jelly fish. It was lying unchilled
this morning on its Chinese dragon platter
in a fragrance that might draw bees,

I walked past it and smelled
summer, I bent my head
over it and four other plums, inhaling
the odor I would think
love ought
to smell like. Not that seawater brine
smell that is sex.
                     We ought always
to be lying in beds with fresh linen
smelling of lavender, and then the darker coral fan
of this fragrance of plums would
come out of our bodies
as we touched.
Even the excretions should smell
like purple ripe plums,
though they don’t.

Eating it this morning
was like making love
the way love
ought to be made,
by young or old, by singles or
couples. The plum had been lying there
ripening from its rocky supermarket beginnings
for almost two weeks. Just yesterday
its fragrance almost made me
pluck it; but I waited
until this morning,
for the sunlight
on the porch, the gold
that preserves
morning, allows it every day
once again to be pure.
First I showered
and made myself clean, the silver-gold
of my hair
also shining, and I walked
picked up the plum from its Chinese platter
took it out on the terrace
and ate it finally, slow bite by slow sweating bite,

holding a white, perfect white
napkin under my chin,
my hands like sea anemones breathing in and out,
savoring the way in which the present can be
better than the past,
middle age more fulfilling
than youth, love in the sunlight
more complete than sex
in the moist dark.