The Adirondack Review
Pearl


A pearl is a drop of sadness, lying
between my breasts. You told me
it looked decorative. Round

bead against round
chest.  What kind of sound
would a pearl make

if it had a mouth stretched
wide as its belly: a birthing groan
born in the brain

of an oyster, a bitter complaint,
a cultured seed. Your skin

is smooth against mine; I am not
decorative but full of holes
you can push your finger through. I am
a cracked cup

modestly embellishing her blemishes
with garlands, gems; this one

I bought with $8 my parents gave me
to spend at the diving show, my tiny
fingers dampening four dirty bills
in the ball of my fist.  The diver’s white
cap fit tight against her skull
as she carried the bucket

of rough treasure no bigger
than my hand.  She approached
like a fish reincarnated,
swimming and reswimming

familiar currents then tangling
inevitably in the hidden
net.  Squinting in sunlight,
she does not belong

no more than this creamy stone
belongs between two sacks
of skin and fat. It is boring a shaft
in my chest, trying to return, remembering
only a spongey, dark home. This is an oyster’s scar

not mine.  As you sound my depths,
I may cry out but into
my own universe, a cavity
that lets in no light nor lets

none escape.  It may be easy
to find completeness in one
or two strokes.  You fill me
and return to yourself unchanged; I’ve taught myself
to stay hidden while on display,
a living jewel, a sultan’s prize:

beneath the pirate’s gaze
I lie, everything round
and pure, everything good
and wholesome, everything seen
with the singing day on the ocean, a poultice
that smooths the world’s wounds, keeps secrets
and tells nothing.

Melissa Frederick







The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
MELISSA FREDERICK teaches creative writing and literature in the MFA program at Rosemont College.  She received her Master’s degree at Iowa State University and is working toward a PhD at Temple University.  Her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous publications, including the Crab Orchard Review, DIAGRAM, The Cream City Review, Kalliope, and The Pedestal and is forthcoming in the Mid-American Review.