Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sharon Olds / I Wanted to Be There When My Father Died

I Wanted to Be There 
When My Father Died
by Sharon Olds

I wanted to be there when my father died
because I wanted to see him die—
and not just to know him, down to
the ground, the dirt of his unmaking, and not
just to give him a last chance
to give me something, or take his loathing
back. All summer he had gagged, as if trying
to cough his whole esophagus out,
surely his pain and depression had appeased me,
and yet I wanted to see him die
not just to see no soul come
free of his body, no magical genie of
spirit jump
forth from his mouth,
proving the body on earth is all we have got,
I wanted to watch my father die
because I hate him. Oh, I love him,
my hands cherished him so, his lying as if dead on the
flowered couch had pummeled me,
his silence had mauled me, I was an Eve
he took and pressed back into clay,
casual thumbs undoing the cheekbone
eye-socket rib pelvis ankle of the child
and now I watched him be undone and
someone in me gloried in it,
someone lying where he’d lain in chintz
Eden, some corpse girl, corkscrewed like
one of his amber spit-ems, smiled.
The priest was well called to that room,
violet grosgrain of his ribbon laid
down well on that bank of flesh
where the daughter of death was made, it was well to say
into other hands than ours
we commend this spirit.

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