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The Woman You Love Cuts Apples For You
By Patrick Rosal

2007 Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry
My American Kundiman (Persea 2006) by Patrick Rosal
Selections reprinted with permission from Persea Books.

and stirs them in sea salt and vinegar
She takes a drag from her Silk Cut

eases again through the fruit's flesh
the blade stopping short of her thumb

You are both sweating at the shoulder
(East Ham's hottest summer) And you realize

these are not the times to come to poetry
You have everything you need

and your father's bone-hard stare
can't reach across the Atlantic

so you save yourself for another day
because there is this woman slicing apples

stirring them in vinegar reminding you
of an afternoon twenty-five years ago when

you knelt with your brothers at your mother's
feet to pluck apple slices from a small basin

pinched between her legs And one of you
would lift that bowl—almost completely empty

except for a sour clouded liquid
and a few seeds shifting at the bottom

You'd just taste at first but soon you're handing it
from brother to brother gulping lung-fulls

of that tart cider You'd sweat sniffle gasp chug
'til your lips turned white and numb

And before you went out into those Jersey streets
you'd rinse your chin You'd soap your hands

because the girls would hold their breath
for every reason and stink on your fingers and neck

You won't dare tell anyone you've learned
to love the taste of something so strange until this

woman cuts apples for you in vinegar
and the familiar fumes fill your nostrils and gullet

She will lift the bowl to drink She'll twist her face
and laugh when she offers it and you will drink

and she will drink and you will drink again
She will kiss your cut knuckle She'll kiss your eyes

Of course the vinegar stings
It's the hottest summer ever in London

And you and the woman you love fall asleep side by side
like this—reeking and unwashed—breathing in

each other's dreams of open skin

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2007 Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry
Patrick Rosal

As Glass

Beast

When You Haven't Made Love in a Long Time

The Woman You Love Cuts Apples For You

Kundiman Ending On a Theme from T La Rock

For My Childhood Friend Derek Who First Told Me I Could Call Him Nigger


2008 RESIDENT POET
Joel H. Vega

Woman in Alverna

A Street in Venice

Between Kisar and Makassar

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