We met over 40 years ago. Floating buttocky halves

spooned into pastel fruit bowls, even drowned in

Del Monte syrup, love at first taste. Your flesh

a luminous hue, hovering on the border of cream

and August skies; your flavor pure as dreamed pleasure

grazing my waking tongue, a melting sweetness

streaming down my throat; your name, a single syllable

promising delight: pear, barely sound, mere parting of lips,

and hint of breath, apple-green p, the sweetest

diphthong ea, all the air in the world, closed in rounded rr‘d

finality. A perfect word, reducing your rumpled, pinnacled

self, to one gorgeous, Old English syllable: per.

Right now, six of you sit ripening on my windowsill.

A sky-blue towel shields bottoms against further bruising

from the wood even at birth you instinctively flee, hanging

off trees in swelling green-gold tears, yearning for earth,

or growing to maturity in bottled, olive-green light, your dying

breath suffusing aging liqueurs like the oldest I ever drank,

the summer I was 19, a century-old brandy served in snifters

the likes of which this working-class boy had never seen.

I tilted the giant crystal bowl; the fragrant liquid elongated

in mimicry of its remembered self and seeped into my mouth: a pear’s

ghost enveloped in flame lay down to rest on my tongue. We both

were saved, at least for that night. Pear. Look of women I love

but don’t lust after, I want to conjugate you: I pear, you pear,

we pear. Like raspberries, Mozart and love, for me, sufficient proof

of God’s existence. I trust you. Lead me by the tongue to heaven.

—Steve Turtell