Marianne Moore

November 15, 1887 – February 5, 1972 / Kirkwood, Missouri

Nine Nectarines And Other Porcelain

Arranged by two's as peaches are,
at intervals that all may live—
eight and a single one, on twigs that
grew the year before—they look like
a derivative;
although not uncommonly
the opposite is seen—
nine peaches on a nectarine.
Fuzzless through slender crescent leaves
of green or blue or
both, in the Chinese style, the four

pairs' half-moon leaf-mosaic turns
out to the sun the sprinkled blush
of puce-American-Beauty pink
applied to bees-wax gray by the
uninquiring brush
of mercantile bookbinding.
Like the peach Yu , the red-
cheeked peach which cannot aid the dead,
but eaten in time prevents death,
'the Italian
peach-nut, Persian plum, Ispahan

secluded wall-grown nectarine,
as wild spontaneous fruit was
found in China first. But was it wild?
Prudent de Candolle would not say.
One perceives no flaws
in this emblematic group
of nine, with leaf window
unquilted by curculio
which someone once depicted on
this much-mended plate
or in the also accurate

unantlered moose or Iceland horse
or ass asleep against the old
thick, low-leaning nectarine that is the
color of the shrub-tree's brownish
flower.

*****

A Chinese "understands
the spirit of the wilderness"
and the nectarine-loving kylin
of pony appearance—the long-
tailed or the tailless
small cinnamon-brown, common
camel-haired unicorn
with antelope feet and no horn,
here enameled on porcelain.
It was a Chinese
Who imagined this masterpiece.
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