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poetry

CORNER TABLE
by
Nina Clements

“Do you like mint tea?” when asked

in a quiet voice, in the dark

corner of a restaurant,


means really: Do you

like me? And when she

answers, “I care


passionately for olives,”

she means, of course,

You are a definite possibility.



COME FOR DINNER
by
Nina Clements

After you have scraped

every good thing

from the pan,


let us sit down.

Let us talk. Eat

with your fingers.


Let them drip tomato

seeds before me. Listen.

Give me your heart


to hold while you chew.

I will want to keep it

because of its odd girth,


the satisfying solidness

of it against my handís

palm. But you and I


are for dinner only:

you will eat, we will talk,

and I will give the heart back.



INDEPENDENT KITCHEN
by
Nina Clements

Is it better, now, to slice

the cilantro alone—a silver

blade along the leaf’s vein

separating one side from another?


When was it that we were

a team with a cutting board

in my kitchen—the smell

of garlic on our sticky, sticky fingers?



INSIDE THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE
by
Nina Clements

Please, let us desist

with the fruits and the nuts.

No more metaphors,


I implore you. No more:

It is the size of a small walnut,

It is round like a grapefruit, or


this thing growing

and twisting your veins

is the shape of a cantaloupe.


I will not hear it again.

Simply measure it out

in absolute inches,


if you please; bring

your slender wooden

ruler next time, I beseech you.


It is past the season

for fruit, overripe

and rotting—so many

dead leaves after a rain.



WE COUNT TOGETHER
by
Nina Clements

Once, a long time ago,

I counted breaths out

loud, holding my ear


to your heart. Dreaming,

I can remember this,

your babyness, the black


scab of your belly like

a jewel to me. Mother

put you on the cutting


board. Suddenly you

are a cat, our lovely

cat who was dying when


I held him at the last.

I counted for him:

in, out; one, two.



Nina Clements received an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2004. Originally from the Pittsburgh area, she has lived with fifteen different roommates (not at the same time) since moving to New York. She currently lives with one cat and two roommates in Brooklyn.

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