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

By Kwame Dawes

Of course, the “elderly couple” in Adrienne Christian’s witty and lovingly observed poem “Portrait of Pink, or Blush”, if they’re like me, probably don’t imagine themselves to be older”, but what they will appreciate is the sensuality of Christian’s gaze. The delicate sentiment of the poem lies in the suggestion that it is Christian who can be the blushing voyeur at the end of the day, and that, of course, is beautiful and generous.

Portrait of pink or blush

when today at the bistro

an elderly couple in jeans, leather

bomber jackets and heeled boots

got off their stools

get up and go home–

him behind her,

the zipper of his bomber jacket

a spine in the back,

him wrapping himself on his scarf

the heart-shaped cookie she nibbled

the shape of his mouth,

this cookie, swollen,

with still fluffy white and pink icing–

I have 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 with permission from author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of English. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.

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