The Means of Life, from an Apple

Anthony Liccione

I think about Miss Riguetta
these thirty years—
her desk diagonal to the chalkboard,
with the knowledgeable red delicious
apple, pose vertical and virtuous atop
—where my larn disappeared.
The always closed door of
her secret closet set behind her.

I would like to tell her I’ve become
what I dreamed of: a lawyer of lies—
a crook for crime. A taster of wines.
When I returned to look for her,
they told me she had left, and went
into the unknown age of retirement.

I still see her in tenth grade, her long
red fingernails, hair in a bun, some fallen
and clasping to a piece of white chalk
and morning sun, announcing herself as
Miss Riguetta. Italian name I assumed, the
dark complexion and hair iced. Cream eyes.
And when she erased the board to a
circular smudge of white she clapped
her hands and particles of dust
went to settle on her chest and shoes,
leaving her remnants for finding.

With a short distance between age
and desire, her sense of color airt fresh,
with shades of sepia, plurals in gray,
yellow tint for her sudden passion.
Halfway in the year, she asked me
to stay after for some extra-curriculum,
and she would work on me longer.

It was soon after when the clock’s hands
lost lastingness to point, and both fell
downward arms-length to the bottom six;
with a few algebraic equations, a yes and
no, perhaps ma’am, my calculator perspiring—
when she undressed to her brassiere and panties
leading with a key to the outcast closet, North
of Pison, and the poison apple she put
in my hand as we entered in, leaning
her fire against my cold stones.

She taught me how flesh for flesh,
is far the same as tooth for tooth
—cruel brevity of revenge;
and humans are all cannibals of sex.
Meat eating, lust driven individuals;
when Eve dropped her hair to her naked
breasts and partook what the devil bled
was delightful to her eye for
my eye on her, when she spoke her body
language of mathematics and tactics
for me to come take a bite and eat,
and it will be all right, all right to have
knowledge as God and not die in algebra.

When the door of tempt did spring open,
the core of a once forbidden apple rolled out
free of oblivion.