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(for my mother)
When I drove into your home town,
for the first time, a big pine-cone
hurtled down in front of the hood!
I parked and retrieved it, the stomen tip
green and wet. An hour later,
I realized that you had never once
thrown anything at me. And, as days
passed, the Ponderosa oval
opened, its bracts stretched apart,
and their pairs of wings on top dried
and lifted. Thank you for every spoon,
and fork, and knife, and saucer, and cup.
Thank you for keeping the air between us
kempt, empty, aeolian.
Never a stick, or a perfume bottle,
or pinking shears — as if you were saving
an inheritance of untainted objects
to pass down to me. You know why I’m still
writing you, don’t you. I miss you unspeakably,
as I have since nine months after I was born,
when you first threw something at me while keeping
hold of it — then threw it again,
and again and again — when you can throw the same thing
over and over, it’s as if you have
a magic power, an always replenishable
instrument. Of course if you had let
go of the big beaver-tail hairbrush —
if it had been aimed at my head — I would have
had it! I’m letting you have it, here,
casting a line out, to catch you, then
coming back, then casting one out,
to bind you to me, flinging this flurry of
Sharon Olds’s most recent books are Stag’s Leap, recipient of the T.S. Eliot Prize (U.K.) and the Pulitzer Prize, and Odes.