Plum

Moon Man 1
By Shannon Phillips

I stood in the break room with him while
he rambled on about flight reservations and
accrued vacation hours.

It was like waiting for water to still,
for the image to stop rippling,
for when I could finally focus.

The membrane of his lip was so delicate
I almost expected to catch a tiny flutter of a pulse
like at the dip in the bone where his throat
merged with his pectoral plate.

His lower lip in particular
such a ripened grape,
that if I barely made a tiny slice
with perhaps, say,
an Exacto knife:

It would burst.

A couple of coworkers everyone speculated were sleeping together
returned from a smoke break.

“Hey, do you want this plum?”
He was cleaning out his lunch box;
I’m sure he’d hate to throw away something
that was still good.

I plucked it from him,
wrapped it in a paper towel to keep it from getting marred,
and stashed it in my purse.

What a man needed a mouth like that for, I don’t know.

“Plum” won second place in Beyond Baroque’s First Ever Poetry Contest (October 2010).

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