Ms. Modigliani flatly rejected the idea of wintering in Monaco after reading about Princess Caroline’s lost poem. “So now you’re sending poems to princesses?”
“That was thirty years ago. I told you about that.”
“You tell me lots of things. I don’t take it seriously until I see it in writing.”
She was equally dubious in the early days of our courtship when I told her this poem was written with her in mind. Maybe she”ll believe me now.
The Lonely Potato Farmer
Some people scrub them compulsively
paring them down to perfect
cubes of starch, 300 calories, no butter.
I like to hold them in my hand, judging
the heft and lump of body parts.
This one could be a fist,
that one a heart or monkey’s brain.
Every October I dig deeper in the furrow
hoping to unearth one as big as the brain
of a French philosophe
Voltaire, maybe, or Georges Cuvier.
Imagine a dirt-caked Katahdin
or Red Lakota as smug and capacious
as the mind of René Descartes.
It thinks, therefore we’ll eat it.
I find a few more of the secretive ones,
overlooked and unmarketable,
next year’s seed. Like my testicles,
I think, washing each gently before
dropping it, unchopped, into the stew.
On long winter nights I linger over
potato bins in the market. When no one’s
watching I lift 20-lb. mesh bags
to smell Idaho, Michigan, Maine
to remember that hot morning in June
when you stopped my heart and held my gaze
with the simplest pale flowers and the promise
of shimmering, salted skin
as you slipped from your sun dress.
Maybe, like the Stones song we danced to on the night we met, it was just my imagination running away with me. Maybe not.