Joanne Durham

Small Table in Evening Dusk

(after a painting by Henri Eugene Augustin Le Sidaner)

How could you not wish this to be your life?
Small wooden table, antique blue.

Two wicker chairs, a bottle of wine,

two peaches plucked from a tree

that’s borne them perfectly ripe for centuries,

by a canal in France winding towards

the sea past houses with unlatched shutters,

the light on in one, others

not rushing to quench the coming darkness.

How could you not want to live

right in the center of the curve, your view

softened into the distance? For this

to be your life, you would, of course, need

to love the person who leans across

the table after supper and takes your hand,

or relish the extra peach alone. And if

you view it all from a bench
in a museum in Chicago, your mind

might drift to your paltry French,

your expired passport, limited funds,

all the people you’d have to reach

across an ocean to touch.

Then perhaps you would sigh and purchase
a passable reproduction

of “Small Table in Evening Dusk”

in the gift shop on your way home.



Joanne Durham is the author of To Drink from a Wider Bowl, winner of the Sinclair Poetry Prize (Evening Street Press 2022) and On Shifting Shoals (Kelsay 2023). A Pushcart nominee, her poems appear in James Crews’ anthology, The Wonder of Small Things, Poetry South, Poetry East, Whale Road Review, CALYX, and many other journals and anthologies. Recent awards include Third Wednesday’s annual poetry contest and the Mary Ruffin Poole Prize. She lives on the North Carolina coast, with the ocean as her backyard and muse.