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First weeks.

Those first weeks, I don't know if I loved my daughter. Her face looked crushed, crumpled with worry--and not even despair but just depression, a look of endurance. The skin of her face was softly wrinkled, there was hair on her ears, she looked a little like a squirrel, suspicious, tranced. And small, seven pounds, wizened--she looked as if she were wincing away from me without moving. The first moment I had seen her, my glasses off, in the birth room, a blur of blood and blue skin and limbs, I had known her, upside down; they righted her and I heard that faint sexual wail and her whole body flushed rose. When I saw her next she was bound in cotton, someone else had cleaned her, wiped the inside of my body off her and combed her hair in little scary plough-lines. She was ten days early, sleepy, the breast so engorged it stood out nearly even with the nipple, her lips would so much as touch the breast, it would hiss and spray. Finally we took her home, she shrieked and whimpered, a little like a burn victim, and when she was quiet she would lie there and peer anxiously. I didn't blame her, she had come to my mother's daughter. I would and gaze at her and pity her. All day I nursed her, all night I walked her and slept and nursed and walked her. And then, one day, she looked at me as if she knew me. She lay along my forearm, fed, and gazed at me as if remembering me, as if she had known me, and loved me, and was get her memory back. When she smiled at me, rictus like birth-pain. or the agony of coming, I fell in love, I became human.
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Author:Olds, Sharon
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:May 1, 1993
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