Rita Dove was named Poet Laureate of the United States in 1993 when she was just forty years old. By then, though, she had written a few novels and several collections of poetry, including Thomas and Beulah (1986), which won the Pulitzer Prize.
The poem below is not an example of how Dove confronts complex historical issues in her work, brings them home and makes them personal. Rather, it is a light piece, a flirtation. But, it’s summer now, officially, and school’s out. So I thought we all deserved a little fun.
FlirtationAfter all, there’s no needto say anything
at first. An orange, peeledand quartered, flares
like a tulip on a wedgewood plateAnything can happen.
Outside the sunhas rolled up her rugs
and night strewn saltacross the sky. My heart
is humming a tuneI haven’t heard in years!
Quiet’s cool flesh—let’s sniff and eat it.
There are waysto make of the moment
a topiaryso the pleasure’s in
Photo credit: “The Flirtation” by Adolf Alexander Dillens