Young Mothers I

That look of attention
on the face of the young mother
like an animal,

bending over the carriage, looking up,
ears erect, eyes showing
the whites all around.

Startled as a newborn, she glances from side to side.
She has pushed, lying alone on a bed,
sweating, isolated by pain,
splitting slowly. She has pressed out
the child in her. It lies, separate,
opening and closing its mouth, its hands
wrinkled with long immersion in salt water.

Now the mother is the other one,
breasts hard bags of rock salt,
the bluish milk seeping out, her soul
there in the small carriage, the child in her
risen to the top, like cream,
and skimmed off.

Now she is alert for violation,
hearing acute as a deer’s, her pupils
quick, her body bent in a curve,
wet rope which has dried and tightened,
a torture in some cultures.
She dreams of death by fire, death
by falling, death by disemboweling,
death by drowning, death by removal
of the head. Someone starts to scream
and it wakes her up, the hungry baby
wakes and saves her.

:: Sharon Olds, Satan Says (1980)

No comments:

Post a Comment