Underneath the Still-Life

Poem by Laura Stuckey


Eden, Mother, is here under the table,

on the pristine floor you swept every day.

It resides beneath the choked arrangements

that vie in vain for summer’s early warmth.

An orange has fallen. Did you notice when?

Someone knocked it from its shallow bowl,

someone pushed it from its plastic rim,

dyed to look like bronze or gold. It’s strange.

I find it and crouch small again, a child

with no arms-length to reach over the table

where I’d reset the orange beside the plums,

as long as duty compelled me to act.

Nor am I large enough to re-sprig the leaf

that dries inside the bowl. Instead I steal

the cool floor’s shade, take the forgotten orange,

work my nail into the rind, and peel.

I’ve no napkin or cloth to stop the juice,

it lands on the table’s underside,

and stains its polished legs. I’ve no partner to segment

the fruit into desirable portions,

my hands alone surround the entire globe.

So I chew the membrane and the flesh,

resetting scale inside a makeshift grove.


LAURA STUCKEY has been published or is forthcoming in Many Mountains Moving, A Poetic Inventory of Rocky Mountain National Park, Academic Questions and Think Journal. She lives in Colorado Springs.


American Arts Quarterly, Summer 2014, Volume 31, Number 3