Clementine Tuesday

Stephen J. Kudless

We argued over eggs and streaky bacon that day.
A Tuesday, when the mackerel sky swam upstream.
We, other fish from American waters, splashed out,
And migrated towards the river and the Albert Bridge.

We hadn’t really spoken to each other for days
And only the repairman’s hint that we leave-
To avoid the noise of his hammering on the pipes-
Sent us out together.

(You said I talked too much at the party,
Especially to that Bulgarian woman with raven hair
And what you called the “Mona Lisa” curl in her lip.
I blundered and said yes, she was very pretty,
But she was simply fascinated at meeting an American,
One from New York, and a person interested in film.
Perhaps she was flirting I said – but I am dense about such things.
You were flirting, you screamed.
No, we were discussing Dustin Hoffman.
And on it went into silence.)

Passing the Oratory you thought you heard the choir,
But I, feeling wounded, laughed at the suggestion
And watched you shrink into your woollen coat and exhale.
London’s streets rose up through our legs
While we watched the English clouds leapfrog overhead
From Chelsea, across the King’s Road, and to the flat again,
To the forgiving smell of clementines, coffee, and your damp hair.

Sometimes, you said, going out makes coming in better.
Of course that’s true, I said, as I peeled another clementine.

Stephen J. Kudless teaches in the English Department of Touro College in New York City. His poems and stories have appeared in The Oak, The Kennebrunk Gazette, The English Newsletter, The Charlottesville Review, and other journals, “some so small even their editors doubt their existence.” A poem was recently anthologized in The Cancer Project (Fairview Press).