Cynthia Arrieu-King


De Beaux Restes


It means to have
beautiful leftovers.
Not food but the body’s
look in old age. 
Mom always says
Robert Redford looks
like une vielle pomme
an old apple
though he has
de beaux restes.
I’m aware how often
I say my mom used to
or my dad used to,
that there’s no one
to pass my hair down
to. That this apple
stain which might have
the blood of a
dinosaur clears away
with enough
hot water. The futon
by itself in Philly.
I’m watching a spy
movie from the 70’s
in my hometown
on a Sunday, a channel
I can’t get anywhere
else. Pretty sure
I’m going to go out
of this life scrambling after
facts: the times I did so
and you managed
in the code of people
who understand everything
to look away. Robert
Redford comes
back from getting
his lunch and all
his coworkers
lie shot. I think
so often of when the
roads stayed out of view,
when I curled in
the backseat
of the car,
too small to look
out the window.
I totally get how you
want to lean things
together in a field
of nothing. The two
sides of things seem
utter vapor. You
probably also were
a kid so quiet they
came to the door
to say, you still alive?
Sometimes my mom says, 
I wish dad were here so I
could fight with
Robert Redford
dials an untraceable
phone and when
he finds out it’s all
an inside job, my
mom says, This
is a terrible movie.

Maybe it’s
nostalgia that
creates the essential
nothing. For the people
we thought could
hold the cellphone
while we found
a shrub to use
in the park, now
departed. Now
Robert Redford
asks his boss
who had been
trying to kill him
in the big tell-off
moment, quote,
Are we really
planning to invade
The Middle East
for oil?
When the film
came out, everyone
thought the movie
was crap and had
no substance. For
fuck’s sake now I’m
suspicious of even
the apples. No roads
go pewter calm.
I’ve seen you tell
a roomful of parents: this
is what happened
when I asked your
children to make
a pencil speak.

When friends
are not around
which is often,
I watch celebrities
reveal their souls
on YouTube. 
Robert Redford
his face not quite
gone to hardwood. 
You’re gonna die
a very lonely man

they tell spy Redford
when he throws their
interior conspiracy
and all its lurking
detail to the Times
You’re right, an utterance
is still worth it
even if it hangs
out in the open,
a coral pendant.
A verb to be we’re
inclined to show.
I remember the
literal flies tapping
on the window.
Robert Redford
does look like
an old apple
though the beaux
means well-
preserved, not leftovers.
You’ve probably seen
a doll with a dried
apple for a head
and pretended it
could hear. Who the hell
is there to tell but
quiet people? The terrible
leftovers I didn’t
throw out that you
must have seen. I felt
confirmed in my
trying to have a baby when
I realized what huge
bags of food I kept giving
you. Redford’s hidden
sorrow he wouldn’t
even tell his biographer
about, the writer who
followed him
for 14 years (that his first baby
died a crib death).
I think that’s what’s
inside good acting:
the pretending and
non-pretending. I think, 
in the movie, that
line about dying
a lonely man
is basically the last
thing everyone says.







Cynthia Arrieu-King teaches at Stockton University and is a former Kundiman Fellow. Her books include People are Tiny in Paintings of China (Octopus 2010), Manifest, winner of the Gatewood Prize selected by Harryette Mullen (Switchback Books 2013), and a collaborative book of poems written with the late Hillary Gravendyk, Unlikely Conditions (1913 Press 2016).