Seventh Birthday of the First Child

The children were around my feet like dogs,
milling, nipping, wetting, slavering,
feed sieving from their chops like plankton.

I slid on their messes, I found their silky bodies
asleep in corners, paws fallen
north, south, east, west,
little sexes gleaming.

Ankle-deep in their smell, their noise,
their noses cold and black
or going soft with fever, I waded, I slogged.

Crowding around my toes like tits,
they taught me to walk carefully,
to hold still to be sucked.
I worked my feet in them like mud
for the pleasure.

And suddenly there is a head at my breastbone
as if one of the litter had climbed
onto the branch of a dwarf tree
which overnight grew to here
bearing you up, daughter, with your dark
newborn eyes. You sit in the boughs,
blossoms breaking like porcelain cups around you.

:: Sharon Olds, Satan Says (1980)

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