The Peaches on Orange Street

Stephen Shoup  


I sat with my pale chest, freckled shoulders

out for the sun and the tree with one branch

overcrowded with peaches; the dried-up

bird bath, and you­, wandering around the

tomato plants that I look at, red, like

carnival lights framing your skin, tattooed


with years of looking at the same spectrum

of light that keeps our cartoons visible

to our ghosts in curtains of hungry clothes,

to take a seat, there, by the tree with its

single eruption of fruit that never

nourished you back into your shirt or shoes


at the corner of our block where an auto

parts store and on the other a car lot

I always view as a passenger, so

I never really have to look too close

past your insect eyes in the black car to

a scenery of everything for sale;

laws barely written about how to breathe

with so many colors, the kitchen


red, bathroom green, the dog grey but also

kind of brown like the frame of the mirror

sitting un-hung in the closet that I

paid twenty-five dollars for and never

really said you could keep, from the thrift store

next to the auto parts store full of the

disassembled and aging domestic

stories of people moving on, passing

through these rooms, resold light fixtures and half-

functioning furniture because someone’s

history was of a better palette


I was never a lover, but a poor

collector of your tomatoes and clean-

smelling bed, but I did leave you a mirror

next to the jackets and dog food, maybe

you can see your teeth and earrings in it–

the places I prefer to remember

I sang to each time you weren’t looking in

another mirror at another tree.

Euphemism Campus Box 4240 Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4240