Jan Ball

Photo Credit: James Butler/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Photo Credit: James Butler/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

I glimpse only the lower half of the painting
with the foreshortened arms of Reynaldo,
the fishmonger, cutting raw pink fish
on a restaurant kitchen counter, from where
I sit at our dining room table glimpsing up
from cards

—shuffle, deal, shuffle, deal—

after blue fin crabmeat garnish on Caesar
salad for dinner at home in Sarasota, Florida.

Last winter we admired the painting
displayed for sale on an outside wall
when we ate at Starfish, pelicans floating
in Sarasota Bay and great blue herons
flightlessly attached to boats like
hood ornaments, so when John returned
to Chicago briefly, I bought the painting
for him for his birthday.

While I negotiated the purchase with
the cashier, a man rushed out of the kitchen
grinning like a celebrity and after a warm
handshake, Reynaldo (I discovered)
offered to sign the back of the canvas
as if he were the painter.

Simultaneously, a woman emerged
smiling with iPhone poised
to photograph Reynaldo with me,
the two of them effusive as actors
portraying fishmongers who rehearse
their lines while trimming pompano,
grouper and soft-shell crab as we eat
our lunchtime fish sandwiches—oblivious
of anyone behind the scenes preparing fish.

Back home, we see all of Reynaldo while
we prepare our dinner in our own kitchen:
chopping onions at the cutting board, stirring
the pumpkin soup, or only Reynaldo’s arms
at the dining room table when we play cards

clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades.

pencilJan Ball started seriously writing poetry and submitting it for publication in 1998. Since then, she’s had 191 poems accepted or published in the U.S., Canada, India and England. Published poems have appeared in: Atlanta Review, Calyx, Connecticut Review, Mid-American Review, Nimrod, Verse Wisconsin and many other journals. Poems are forthcoming in: Chiron Review, The Great American Poetry Show, Off the Coast, Sanskrit, Studio One, U. S. 1 Worksheets, Westview, and Willow Review. Her poem, “my face emerges from my face,” was second runner-up in the Spring 2010 contest issue of So to Speak. In another contest, her poem, “carwash,” won the 2011 Betsy Colquitt Award for the best poem in a current issue of Descant, Fort Worth. Her two chapbooks, Accompanying Spouse (2011) and Chapter of Faults (2014), have both been published by Finishing Line Press and are available on Amazon. She is a member of The Poetry Club of Chicago. Email: janiceball[at]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email