A Naked Proposal

I chewed on his suggestion, a crunchy
walnut fresh to me. His advice quick:

don’t hug adjectives, less description,
no more words! Come to bed with me.

Even the coffee cup, gilded, only quarter full,
half a bagel quickly devoured. No jam, cream,

or cheese. Come upstairs. I’ll show you!
I’ll serve all the adverbs you ever need!

I lingered at the worn kitchen table,
knew I have known impatient men all my life.

I took another grape, bit it in half, peeled it,
slowly, with my teeth, spit the pits into the palm

of my hand and walked out the door.
His golden mirror naked in the street.



Click here to read Gunilla Kester on the origin of the poem.

Image: photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash, licensed under CC 2.0.

Gunilla Kester:
This poem is based on a real event from one of the oldest books we have. A man promises to help the narrator with her manuscript but has other intentions. When she realizes, she experiences this change first as sound, crunchy walnut, man’s voice. Then as sight, the gilded cup. Also, he wants to dictate her writing by serving her “all the adverbs” she needs. He wants her body and her language.

She understands that men and women experience time differently, and so she slows down. With her sense of time, she breaks his attempts at reifying her by turning her into a golden mirror reflecting his greatness and voice. Thus, she finds her agency and freedom to walk out the door.

Did the writer “know” all that while writing? I doubt it. That mirror was a surprise. The repetition of the adjective “naked” in the title and the last line becomes a signal of protest and change of power.

Gunilla Kester
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