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The Concerto

Madeline Portune

I impressed you when I tied a knot out of a cherry

Stem, then whispered your name in a voice like velvet —

You tipped back your glass of bordeaux

And we headed out into the early spring snow, the tulips

Peeking out from beneath the crystals. Our sweat burned like serrano

And our climaxes were sweet sonatas on violin.

Laying in feather sheets the next morning, I thought about my old violin:

A small maple hourglass that used to shine like cherry

Skin. I thought about the spicy serrano

Notes that came from my bow and left a velvet

Echo in the auditorium. I thought about the tulips

A boy brought me after one concert, their color a deep red bordeaux.

I thought about my first taste of red wine, a bordeaux

That tasted as sophisticated as the notes played by a violin

Symphony on the dewy grass lawn, hundreds of people turned like tulips

Toward a stage at the bottom of the hill. The clouds dissipated to reveal a cherry

Sunset that burnt the sky while the wine left a velvet

Tingle on my tongue and warmed my chest with heated serrano.

I thought about the time I studied abroad in Hidalgo, pulling serrano

Peppers from their poison leaves, and the plant I grew at home sipping bordeaux

Like a newlywed housewife waiting for my husband on a velvet

Accent chair. I felt the urge to dance one day so I searched for a violin

Or jazz record and placed the needle on the track. The first song was “Cherry”

By Louis Armstrong, and the saxophone made my voice blossom like tulips.

I thought about the soil beneath my mother’s perfect bed of tulips,

And the time I cut them all to make a bouquet. My mother’s voice was serrano

Heat and my tears came fast to my cherry

Red cheeks. I thought of her sitting alone that night, opening a bottle of bordeaux

At the kitchen table. She told me to go upstairs and practice on my violin

But I heard her through my scratchy noise that cut her sobs like velvet.

I thought of you and the warm coffee air from your kitchen. I put on my velvet

Slippers and slid your bedroom door open to see a bouquet of tulips

On your kitchen island countertop. You smiled and your dimples were a violin

Waist. I walked to your refrigerator for cream and saw the cornucopia of serrano,

Peaches, tomato, grapefruit, and oranges. You kissed me with bordeaux

Lips and I thought about the passion of last night’s cherry.

Spicy serrano love and violin

Movements, bordeaux breath and opening tulips —

Our cherry bodies leave each other wrapped in soft velvet.

Madeline Portune (She/Her) is a poet attending Miami University’s MFA poetry program in the fall. Her poems have appeared in genesis and an anthology, Indiana’s Best Emerging Poets. She currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and their cats, Tim and Tony. Find her on Instagram, @maddie.portune.

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