The Bradford and I

Here, spring’s first blooms belong
to the Bradford pear, and soon
the petals from the tree next door
will litter my back yard like spent
tissues in miniature, but between
now and then, my friend will dip
her face into the white spray
of flowers and claim they smell
like semen. But who’s to say,
for sure which came first—
ejaculate or the Bradford pear’s
bouquet? Maybe semen stinks
like flowers, and not the other way
around. I wouldn’t know. A Bradford
pear, by any other name, would smell
the same to me—exactly like itself:
a touch of dirt, an underwhelming
funk, but not enough to jerk
away with a wrinkled nose,
as my friend does repeatedly, come
each and every spring. It’s not for me
to understand what keeps her going
back for more of what repels.
I gladly wait—and not too long—
for spring’s next bright array.
Then I sink into the pink
posy of the apple tree, breathe
that nosegay deep, steep
myself in honeyed fragrance,
and linger smiling, gratified.

Marisa P. Clark is a queer writer from the South whose work appears or will appear in Cream City Review, Nimrod, Epiphany, Foglifter, Potomac Review, Rust + Moth, Louisiana Literature, and elsewhere. Shenandoah recently published the first chapter of her novel Hermosa, which has been a finalist in several first-book contests, and Best American Essays 2011 recognized her creative nonfiction among its Notable Essays. A fiction reader for New England Review, she makes her home in New Mexico with three parrots and two dogs. Her first name is pronounced Ma-REE-sa.

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