The Men I Once Knew

Mary O'Donnell

One offered a bag of lemons, bright and shiny,
still warm from the Mediterranean garden
where he plucked them. Another took me

on a boat. It had no life-jackets. We sailed
dangerously and I was sea-sick for days.

It’s no problem, he said, just watch the horizon.
The third kept painting me, Botticelli’s Venus,
he murmured, digging his brush

to the canvas, failing each time to find the line
that would match the line of my thigh.

Lemons. Life-jacket. My thigh.

We failed calamitously, we failed gloriously
too, and even now on any day,

I can’t say I ever felt ruined

by their attentions.

It was how we passed the time,