She had thick locks of iron grey hair
That laughed down her back.
Reclining on the blanket in their backyard,
Her gaze held a smile on his face.
The professor and his wife introduced me
To the harpsichord, good wine, and backyard picnics.
He adjusted his thick glasses, and that wry smile appeared.
He took curious interest in my sophomoric ideas.
I had never eaten a pomegranate before—
Though I’d heard the tale of Persephone many times.
As a child, we picked them from a neighbor’s tree
And hurled them at each other, laughing as they crashed.
The cold October water bit my hands, numbing them slightly,
As I immersed that strange fruit under water.
“That’s right”, he said, coaching. “It’s a little easier,”
She said, pushing him aside, “If you do it like this.”
The tart red fruit fell to the bottom of the pan
While the pith floated to the top making it easy to separate.
After we finished the bowl, he motioned to me to get another.
The work of cleaning it, effortless, with their guidance.
Some twenty years after that picnic,
I stepped out onto the street with a loaf of bread in my arms.
The arc of his face caught my attention when he adjusted his glasses.
Shrunken with age, face drooping, his eyes twinkled.
I mentioned the picnic and the pomegranates. He remembered brightly.
His wife drifted, her gaze permanently fixed in the distance.
The harpsichord. The wine. I laughed. He smiled.
“Mary can’t play any more. She’s alzheimer’s. Quite tragic.”
Warmth and awkwardness followed an October breeze down the sidewalk.
“I still keep the books from your course on my book shelf.”
He patted his wife’s hand, pulled her a little closer.
“The smart ones always do.”