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Donna J. Gelagotis Lee


Question of Desire

They grow like apples—
fat, hard, pit

at the core. They grow
like peaches—juicy, soft

fuzzy skins. Or are
they pears?—I think
they are plums—tart

just the right texture
for the lips and teeth
and the tongue—plums

in the garden you toil
to bloom against the parched
mountainside and pale sky

that drops oranges and lemons
onto us as we sleep, their
hard rinds fragrant yet

impenetrable by the lips
alone, requiring teeth, a knife,
the fingernail, and then

we roll on them as we
talk—how I long for
something softer—

something I can wrap my hand
around to fit in my palm,
skin against skin—

closer and closer they hang
toward my balcony beneath
the chariot sky, drupe then blood,

pinker than our own flesh.
If only they were apples, how
simple the choice would be.



The pines

are fierce,
their shades of red, human,
like eyes inside heads,
their spindly trunks long legs,
barely visible branches
like arms reaching upward
in a field of dancers.

In no way do they look
like the umbrella pine
in the garden,
which breathes its scent
into our bedroom
at the end of a street
swept to the bone
by a black-kerchiefed woman

who places tiny cups
of bittersweet coffee
and rings of sweets
she has arranged on a silver tray
onto a concrete bench that curves
around the base of the tree.

By fall, you’ll climb
the wooden ladder
into the depths
of the pine. Brown
cones will open, spill out
their seeds.

In winter, we’ll savor
the smooth
nuts, like the bareness
of summer,
surrounding this spot

unlike the airy space
of Monet’s place,
where the water beckons
and the sky melts
into the sea.


Donna J. Gelagotis Lee's poems have appeared in The Bitter Oleander, CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, The Cortland Review, Feminist Studies, The Massachusetts Review, Seattle Review, and other journals. She is a freelance editor in New Jersey.

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