Poem-a-Day Collection (18)

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Poem-a-Day Collection
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Poem-a-Day Collection by Knopf. Compilation copyright 2009 by Knopf.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.


To See My Mother

By Sharon Olds

It was like witnessing the earth being formed,
to see my mother die, like seeing
the dry lands be separated
from the oceans, and all the mists bear up
on one side, and all the solids
be borne down, on the other, until
the body was all there, all bronze and
petrified redwood opal, and the soul all
gone. If she hadn't looked so exalted, so
beast-exalted and refreshed and suddenly
hopeful, more than hopeful—beyond
hope, relieved—if she had not been suffering so
much, since I had met her, I do not
know how I would have stood it, without
fighting someone, though no one was there
to fight, death was not there except
as her, my task was to hold her tiny
crown in one cupped hand, and her near
birdbone shoulder. Lakes, clouds,
nests. Winds, stems, tongues.
Embryo, zygote, blastocele, atom,
my mother's dying was like an end
of life on earth, some end of water
and moisture salt and sweet, and vapor,
till only that still, ocher moon
shone, in the room, mouth open, no song.

--

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Excerpt from ONE SECRET THING. Copyright © 2008 by Sharon Olds. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.




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