“At 60” by Claire Zoghb

Untitled, Claire Zoghb

Behold the purple glass vase across the room
there, by the window. Tulips, heads nodding
in this late-day light. Except for a single unruly one.
Look how its tender stem arches away from the others
wanting, reaching for, something else. At 60 and smitten
every thing looks new, looks like you—first that unopened
pale pink tulip, searching. Then your body becomes
this champagne flute bubbling with desire. At 60 I understand
I understand nothing but desire. Don’t blame this springtime—
crocuses with single yellow eye pushing purple heads
through winter’s leftovers—nor these days of lengthening light.
Blame the pickup trucks, ubiquitous as sand in this beachtown.
Several times a day yours slips, silent, slow, down our street
red-and-white 4X4 logo emblazoned on its backside, a brand
on a stallion’s shining black flank. You slapped my flank
once, that first night—was it too some sign of possession?
Or just a whim, a gesture from eons ago? Whatever the intention
it brought me to life as when 60 years ago the OB dangled
my three-weeks-early body and crowned me into breath
with a single swift whack. My flesh resonates still
like a tulip continues to grow after it’s been cut.


Claire Zoghb’s poetry collections include Small House Breathing and two chapbooks: Boundaries and Dispatches from Everest. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net. A past winner of Dogwood’s annual poetry competition and the Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival, she tends to six squirrel overlords twice a day. A graphic artist and book designer, Claire lives, works and walks on the edge of Long Island Sound in Connecticut.