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After my mother was done with me.

After my mother was done with me, after I would put my pants back on, hairbrush scansion of punishment done, I'd go back to my room, close the door, and wander around, ending up on the floor sometimes, always, near the baseboard, where the vertical fall of the wall meets the level rule of the floor--I would put my face near that angle, and look at the dust and anything caught in the dust. I would see the swags of old-lady-hair dust, pelmets carved on cenotaph granite, and cocoons of dust like tiny Kotexes wound and wound in toilet paper with no one inside, child of the childless, I would see the anonymous crowds of grit, as if looking down into Piazza Navona from a mile above Il Duce, I would see a larval casing waisted in gold thin as the poorest gold wedding band, and a wasp's dried thorax and legs wound love-ring with a pubic hair--my mother's, who slept in my second bed the second half of every second night. I would see the coral-maroon of the ladybug's back dotted with its bad genes, I would see a fly curled up, dried, its wings like the rabbit's ears, or the deer's. I would lie quiet and look at them, it was so peaceful there with them, I was not at all afraid of them, and my sadness for them didn't matter. I would look at each piece of lint and half imagine being it, I would feel that I was looking at the universe from a great distance. Sometimes I'd pick up a Dresden fly and fly it through the air, sometimes I'd idly play house with the little world, weddings and funerals with little body parts, awful births, but I did not want to disarrange that unerring deadness like a kind of goodness, corner of wetless grey waste, nothing anyone would go for. Without desire, or rage, I would watch that dust celestium as the pain on my matter died and turned to spirit and wandered the cloud world of home, the ashes of the earth.
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Author:Olds, Sharon
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:May 1, 1993
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