Judith Skillman

Don’t Lecture Me Augustine

About plums stolen after dark
from the rich who sleep well
in soft beds of history.
I wanted to die young
but it’s too late for that.
I wanted to steal
with the laughter
of getting away with it.
Instead the stiffness
of age stole me away
from myself, and now
those green, hard fruit,
the ones brought down
by their predisposition
for sunlight, water—
lie sour as a crone’s breast
beside the dumpster
waiting for the man’s hands
to cut their downed branches
into lengths
and tie them up with twine.
Don’t presume sin lies
in the province
of men alone. Women
also want more
than their share of pleasure.
When they take it is without
the wineskin or the rites
passed down father to son.
It is from women who wear
the name Puta like a badge,
and the men who give them
whatever sweets their body
still craves, those men
pretend the body
is a temple where alms are given
regardless of celebration.

Judith Skillman’s eleventh collection of poems is “Prisoner of the Swifts” Ahadada Books (ahadadabooks.com). Her current manuscript “The Never” was a finalist for the FIELD/Oberlin Press Award in 2009. “Heat Lightning: New and Selected Poems 1986 – 2006“ was published by Silverfish Review Press, Eugene, Oregon, 2006. The recipient of an award from the Academy of American Poets for her book “Storm” (Blue Begonia Press, 1998), Skillman’s work has appeared in Poetry, FIELD, The Southern Review, The Iowa Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, Seneca Review, and numerous other journals and anthologies. Please see www.judithskillman.com for more information.