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American Life in Poetry: ‘Portrait of Pink, or Blush’

Kwame Dawes

By Kwame Dawes

Of course, the “elderly couple” in Adrienne Christian’s witty and tenderly observed poem “Portrait of Pink, or Blush,” likely, if they are like me, do not imagine themselves to be “elderly,” but what they will appreciate is the sensuality of Christian’s observation. The delicate sentiment in the poem lies in the suggestion that it is Christian who may be the blushing voyeur at the end of the day, and that, of course, is lovely and generous.

Portrait of Pink, or Blush

when today at a bistro

an elderly couple in jeans, leather

bomber jackets, and heeled boots

stepped down from their stools

to stand and go home–

him behind her,

his bomber jacket zipper

a spine at her back,

him wrapping on her scarf

the heart-shaped cookie she nibbled

the shape of her mouth,

that cookie, puffy,

with still-soft icing white and rose–

I learned

the anthropology of blush

Poem copyright 2020 by Adrienne Christian, “Portrait of Pink, or Blush” from “All the Songs We Sing,” edited by Lenard D. Moore (Blair/Carolina Wren Press, 2020.) Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.We do not accept unsolicited submissions.

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