Back to Issue Twenty.

peacock at a garden party



All the little Fiats
have clambered up the hill
on the old Roman road—

Reformed, it translates—
and in shallow ditches lining the villa
have parked nose-first.

Their owners, skinny-suited
Slovenes and Italian
Northern Leaguers,

orange-cheeked and already
in their wine, go
slipping up the hill. I am in

my father’s garden
holding a tray of undercooked,
clean-cut pigeon breasts

skewered top to bottom.
There’s talk of the wild peacock
none of us has seen.

It cries like a child
from the bordering thicket
while I make new rounds

with a tray of potato dumplings,
little mouthfuls: the yellow dumpling
like an allergic eye,

flushing with clusters of meat;
the bitter green;
the pink one, lidded and sweet.

I am in my father’s garden
in a silk-lined suit
and a thin, European tie,

watching two little boys—
Umberto and Lorenzo,
I think they are called—

dig a limb of charcoal
from the outlying grill.
Umberto drags black lines

beneath Lorenzo’s eyes, arms
himself with a stick, and both boys
disappear down the hill.

Our wailing peacock quiets and hides.
I am in my father’s garden
where a south wind runs off

with the sun. My father
ruffles my thick, dago hair.
Here we are: love, it seems,

is a lack of alternatives.
The pride-and-joy
cottonwoods, flaring

hierarchies of branches,
flap their papery leaves.
Underneath a juniper hedge,

the peacock folds and flattens
its plumage of bored, bright eyes
and holds its breath.


Jayme Ringleb is a recipient of scholarships to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Lambda Literary Writers Retreat, and some of his poems appear recently or soon in Gulf CoastThe JournalAt Length, and Sixth Finch.

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