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Poem of the Day: Seaweeds
I know a little what it is like, once here at high tide
Stranded, for them to be so attached to the bottom’s
Sarcophagus lids, up to their brown green gold wine
Bottle necks in the prevailing booze, riding, as far
As we can see, like a picnic on a blanket.

Whatever plucks them from below the red horizon
Like snapped pulleys and ropes for the pyramidal effort
Of the moon, they come in, they come through the breakers,
Heaps of hair, writing across the beach a collapsed
Script, signers of a huge independence.

Melville thought them pure, bitter, seeing the fog-sized
Flies dancing stiff and renaissance above. But I
Have eaten nori and dulse, and to have gone deep
Before being cast out leaves hardly a taste of loneliness.
And I take in their iodine.

Sandra McPherson, “Seaweeds” from Radiation (New York: The Ecco Press, 1973). Copyright © 1973 by Sandra McPherson. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Poetry November 1972

Sandra McPherson

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Poem of the Day: A Song: When June is past, the...
Ask me no more where Jove bestows,
When June is past, the fading rose;
For in your beauty's orient deep
These flowers as in their causes, sleep.

Ask me no more whither doth stray
The golden atoms of the day;
For in pure love heaven did prepare
Those powders to enrich your hair.

Ask me no more whither doth haste
The nightingale when May is past;
For in your sweet dividing throat
She winters and keeps warm her note.

Ask me no more where those stars light
That downwards fall in dead of night;
For in your eyes they sit, and there,
Fixed become as in their sphere.

Ask me no more if east or west
The phoenix builds her spicy nest;
For unto you at last she flies,
And in your fragrant bosom dies.

Poem of the Day: Gay Pride Weekend, S.F., 1992
I forgot how lush and electrified
it was with you. The shaggy
fragrant zaps continually passing
back and forth, my fingertip
to your clavicle, or your wrist
rubbing mine to share gardenia
oil. We so purred like dragonflies
we kept the mosquitoes away
and the conversation was heavy,
mother-lacerated childhoods
and the sad way we'd both
been both ignored and touched
badly. Knowing that being
fierce and proud and out and
loud was just a bright new way
to be needy. Please listen to me, oh
what a buzz! you're the only one
I can tell. Even with no secret,
I could come close to your ear
with my mouth and that was
ecstasy, too. We barely touched
each other, we didn't have to
speak. The love we made leapt
to life like a cat in the space
between us (if there ever was
space between us), and looked
back at us through fog. Sure,
this was San Francisco, it was
often hard to see. But fog always
burned off, too, so we watched
this creature to see if it knew
what it was doing. It didn't.

Brenda Shaughnessy, "Gay Pride Weekend, S.F., 1992" from So Much Synth. Copyright © 2016 by Brenda Shaughnessy.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: So Much Synth(Copper Canyon Press, 2016)

Brenda Shaughnessy

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Poem of the Day: Celebration for June 24
Before you, I was living on an island
And all around the seas of that lonely coast
Cast up their imitation jewels, cast
Their fables and enigmas, questioning, sly.
I never solved them, or ever even heard,
Being perfect in innocence: unconscious of self;
Such ignorance of history was all my wealth—
A geographer sleeping in the shadow of virgins.

But though my maps were made of private countries
I was a foreigner in all of them after you had come,
For when you spoke, it was with a human tongue
And never understood by my land-locked gentry.
Then did the sun shake down a million bells
And birds bloom on bough in wildest song!
Phlegmatic hills went shivering with flame;
The chestnut trees were manic at their deepest boles!

It is little strange that nature was riven in her frame
At this second creation, known to every lover—
How we are shaped and shape ourselves in the desires of the other
Within the tolerance of human change.
Out of the spring’s innocence this revolution,
Created on a kiss, announced the second season,
The summer of private history, of growth, through whose sweet sessions
The trees lift toward the sun, each leaf a revelation.

Our bodies, coupled in the moonlight’s album,
Proclaimed our love against the outlaw times
Whose signature was written in the burning towns.
Your face against the night was my medallion.
Your coming forth aroused unlikely trumpets
In the once-tame heart. They heralded your worth
Who are my lodestar, my bright and ultimate North,
Marrying all points of my personal compass.

This is the love that now invents my fear
Which nuzzles me like a puppy each violent day.
It is poor comfort that the mind comes, saying:
What is one slim girl to the peoples’ wars?
Still, my dice are loaded: having had such luck,
Having your love, my life would still be whole
Though I should die tomorrow. I have lived it all.
—And love is never love, that cannot give love up.

Thomas McGrath, “Celebration for June 24” from Movie At The End of the World. Copyright © 1972 by Thomas McGrath. Used by permission of Swallow Press/Ohio University Press.

Source: Poetry June 1944

Thomas McGrath

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Poem of the Day: Summer at North Farm
Fires, always fires after midnight,
the sun depending in the purple birches

and gleaming like a copper kettle.
By the solstice they’d burned everything,

the bad-luck sleigh, a twisted rocker,
things “possessed” and not-quite-right.

The bonfire coils and lurches,
big as a house, and then it settles.

The dancers come, dressed like rainbows
(if rainbows could be spun),

and linking hands they turn
to the melancholy fiddles.

A red bird spreads its wings now
and in the darker days to come.

Stephen Kuusisto, “Summer at North Farm” from Only Bread Only Light. Copyright © 2000 by Stephen Kuusisto. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: Poetry August 1989

Stephen Kuusisto

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Poem of the Day: The Soul
It disappeared.
It reappeared
as chimney smoke
that burnt through carcasses
of swallows stilled,
and that it portrayed no will
was why I followed that smoke
with this pair of eyes.

It was that it didn’t need
or require my belief
that I leant upon it
as a tired worker
a gate.

Source: Poetry November 2012

Katie Ford

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Poem of the Day: Summer Solstice
I wanted to see where beauty comes from
without you in the world, hauling my heart
across sixty acres of northeast meadow,
my pockets filling with flowers.
Then I remembered,
it’s you I miss in the brightness
and body of every living name:
rattlebox, yarrow, wild vetch.
You are the green wonder of June,
root and quasar, the thirst for salt.
When I finally understand that people fail
at love, what is left but cinquefoil, thistle,
the paper wings of the dragonfly
aeroplaning the soul with a sudden blue hilarity?
If I get the story right, desire is continuous,
equatorial. There is still so much
I want to know: what you believe
can never be removed from us,
what you dreamed on Walnut Street
in the unanswerable dark of your childhood,
learning pleasure on your own.
Tell me our story: are we impetuous,
are we kind to each other, do we surrender
to what the mind cannot think past?
Where is the evidence I will learn
to be good at loving?
The black dog orbits the horseshoe pond
for treefrogs in their plangent emergencies.
There are violet hills,
there is the covenant of duskbirds.
The moon comes over the mountain
like a big peach, and I want to tell you
what I couldn’t say the night we rushed
North, how I love the seriousness of your fingers
and the way you go into yourself,
calling my half-name like a secret.
I stand between taproot and treespire.
Here is the compass rose
to help me live through this.
Here are twelve ways of knowing
what blooms even in the blindness
of such longing. Yellow oxeye,
viper’s bugloss with its set of pink arms
pleading do not forget me.
We hunger for eloquence.
We measure the isopleths.
I am visiting my life with reckless plenitude.
The air is fragrant with tiny strawberries.
Fireflies turn on their electric wills:
an effulgence. Let me come back
whole, let me remember how to touch you
before it is too late.

Stacie Cassarino, “Summer Solstice” from Zero at the Bone. Copyright © 2009 by Stacie Cassarino. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Press.

Source: Zero at the Bone(New Issues Press, 2009)

Stacie Cassarino

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Poem of the Day: Brahma
If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near;
Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear;
And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
I am the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

Poem of the Day: St. Peter Claver
Every town with black Catholics has a St. Peter Claver’s.
My first was nursery school.
Miss Maturin made us fold our towels in a regulation square and nap on army cots.
No mother questioned; no child sassed.
In blue pleated skirts, pants, and white shirts,
we stood in line to use the open toilets
and conserved light by walking in darkness.
Unsmiling, mostly light-skinned, we were the children of the middle class, preparing to take our parents’ places in a world that would demand we fold our hands and wait.
They said it was good for us, the bowl of soup, its pasty whiteness;
I learned to swallow and distrust my senses.

On holy cards St. Peter’s face is olive-toned, his hair near kinky;
I thought he was one of us who pass between the rich and poor, the light and dark.
Now I read he was “a Spanish Jesuit priest who labored for the salvation of the African Negroes and the abolition of the slave trade.”
I was tricked again, robbed of my patron,
and left with a debt to another white man.

Toi Derricotte, “St. Peter Claver” from Captivity. Copyright © 1989 by Toi Derricotte. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, www.upress.pitt.edu. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: Captivity(1989)

Toi Derricotte

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Poem of the Day: My Father
My father was a tall man and yet the ripened rye
Would come above his shoulders, the spears shot up so high.

My father was a tall man and yet the tasseled corn
Would hide him when he cut the stalks upon a frosty morn.

The green things grew so lushly in the valley of my birth,
Where else could one witness the luxuriance of earth?

The plow would turn so rhythmically the loose, unfettered loam,
There was no need of effort to drive the coulter home.

My father walked behind his team before the sun was high,
Fine as a figure on a frieze cut sharp against the sky.

And when he swung the cradle in the yellow of the grain,
He could command all eyes around, or when he drove the wain.

I wonder if his acres now that lie so far away
Are waiting for his footprint at the coming of the day.

I wonder if the brown old barn that still is standing long
And ghostly cattle in the stalls are waiting for his song.

Source: Father: An Anthology of Verse(EP Dutton & Company, 1931)

Jessie B. Rittenhouse

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Poem of the Day: Photo of a Girl on a Beach
Once when I was harmless
and didn’t know any better,

a mirror to the front of me
and an ocean behind,

I lay wedged in the middle of daylight,
paper-doll thin, dreaming,

then I vanished. I gave the day a fingerprint,
then forgot.

I sat naked on a towel
on a hot June Monday.

The sun etched the inside of my eyelids,
while a boy dozed at my side.

The smell of all oceans was around us—
steamy salt, shell, and sweat,

but I reached for the distant one.
A tide rose while I slept,

and soon I was alone. Try being
a figure in memory. It’s hollow there.

For truth’s sake, I’ll say she was on a beach
and her eyes were closed.

She was bare in the sand, long,
and the hour took her bit by bit.

Carmen Giménez Smith, “Photo of a Girl on a Beach” from Odalisque in Pieces. Copyright © 2009 by Carmen Gimenez Smith. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

Source: Odalisque in Pieces(University of Arizona Press, 2009)

Carmen Giménez Smith

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Poem of the Day: Dear One Absent This Long While
It has been so wet stones glaze in moss;
everything blooms coldly.

I expect you. I thought one night it was you
at the base of the drive, you at the foot of the stairs,

you in a shiver of light, but each time
leaves in wind revealed themselves,

the retreating shadow of a fox, daybreak.
We expect you, cat and I, bluebirds and I, the stove.

In May we dreamed of wreaths burning on bonfires
over which young men and women leapt.

June efforts quietly.
I’ve planted vegetables along each garden wall

so even if spring continues to disappoint
we can say at least the lettuce loved the rain.

I have new gloves and a new hoe.
I practice eulogies. He was a hawk

with white feathered legs. She had the quiet ribs
of a salamander crossing the old pony post road.

Yours is the name the leaves chatter
at the edge of the unrabbited woods.

Lisa Olstein, “Dear One Absent This Long While” from Radio Crackling, Radio Gone. Copyrigh 2006 by Lisa Olstein. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: Radio Crackling Radio Gone(Copper Canyon Press, 2006)

Lisa Olstein

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Poem of the Day: A Summer Wind
O wind, thou hast thy kingdom in the trees,
        And all thy royalties
        Sweep through the land to-day.
              It is mid June,
And thou, with all thy instruments in tune,
              Thine orchestra
Of heaving fields and heavy swinging fir,
              Strikest a lay
              That doth rehearse
Her ancient freedom to the universe.
        All other sound in awe
              Repeats its law:
        The bird is mute; the sea
        Sucks up its waves; from rain
        The burthened clouds refrain,
To listen to thee in thy leafery,
              Thou unconfined,
Lavish, large, soothing, refluent summer wind.

Poem of the Day: Pauline Is Falling
from the cliff's edge,
kicking her feet in panic and despair
as the circle of light contracts and blackness
takes the screen. And that
is how we leave her, hanging—though we know
she will be rescued, only to descend
into fresh harm, the story flowing on,
disaster and reprieve—systole, diastole—split
rhythm of a heart that hungers

only to go on. So why is this like my mother,
caged in a railed bed, each breath,
a fresh installment in a tortured tale
of capture and release? Nine days
she dangled, stubborn,
over the abyss, the soft clay crumbling
beneath her fingertips, until she dropped
with a little bird cry of surprise
into the swift river below.

Here metaphor collapses, for there was no love
to rescue her, no small boat
waiting with a net to fish her out,
although the water carried her,
and it was April when we buried her
among the weeping cherries and the waving
flags and in the final fade, a heron
breasted the far junipers
to gain the tremulous air and swim away.

Source: Poetry March 2000

Jean Nordhaus

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Poem of the Day: Getting in the Wood
The sour smell,
       blue stain,
               water squirts out round the wedge,

Lifting quarters of rounds
       covered with ants,
      "a living glove of ants upon my hand"
the poll of the sledge a bit peened over
so the wedge springs off and tumbles
        ringing like high-pitched bells
               into the complex duff of twigs
               poison oak, bark, sawdust,
               shards of logs,

And the sweat drips down.
        Smell of crushed ants.
The lean and heave on the peavey
that breaks free the last of a bucked
        three-foot round,
                it lies flat on smashed oaklings—

Wedge and sledge, peavey and maul,
       little axe, canteen, piggyback can
       of saw-mix gas and oil for the chain,
knapsack of files and goggles and rags,

All to gather the dead and the down.
       the young men throw splits on the piles
       bodies hardening, learning the pace
and the smell of tools from this delve
       in the winter
             death-topple of elderly oak.
Four cords.

Gary Snyder, "Getting in the Wood" from Axe Handles. Copyright © 1983 by Gary Snyder.  Reprinted by permission of Counterpoint Press.

Source: Axe Handles(North Point Press, 1983)

Gary Snyder

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Poem of the Day: A History of Sexual Preference
We are walking our very public attraction
through eighteenth-century Philadelphia.
I am simultaneously butch girlfriend
and suburban child on a school trip,
Independence Hall, 1775, home
to the Second Continental Congress.
Although she is wearing her leather jacket,
although we have made love for the first time
in a hotel room on Rittenhouse Square,
I am preparing my teenage escape from Philadelphia,
from Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously occupied
residential street in the nation,
from Carpenters’ Hall, from Congress Hall,
from Graff House where the young Thomas
Jefferson lived, summer of 1776. In my starched shirt
and waistcoat, in my leggings and buckled shoes,
in postmodern drag, as a young eighteenth-century statesman,
I am seventeen and tired of fighting for freedom
and the rights of men. I am already dreaming of Boston—
city of women, demonstrations, and revolution
on a grand and personal scale.

                                                       Then the maître d’
is pulling out our chairs for brunch, we have the
surprised look of people who have been kissing
and now find themselves dressed and dining
in a Locust Street townhouse turned café,
who do not know one another very well, who continue
with optimism to pursue relationship. Eternity
may simply be our mortal default mechanism
set on hope despite all evidence. In this mood,
I roll up my shirtsleeves and she touches my elbow.
I refuse the seedy view from the hotel window.
I picture instead their silver inkstands,
the hoopskirt factory on Arch Street,
the Wireworks, their eighteenth-century herb gardens,
their nineteenth-century row houses restored
with period door knockers.
Step outside.
We have been deeded the largest landscaped space
within a city anywhere in the world. In Fairmount Park,
on horseback, among the ancient ginkgoes, oaks, persimmons,
and magnolias, we are seventeen and imperishable, cutting classes
May of our senior year. And I am happy as the young
Tom Jefferson, unbuttoning my collar, imagining his power,
considering my healthy body, how I might use it in the service
of the country of my pleasure.

"A History of Sexual Preference" from All-American Girl, by Robin Becker, ©1996. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: All-American Girl(University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996)

Robin Becker

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Poem of the Day: So We'll Go No More a Roving
So, we'll go no more a roving
   So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
   And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
   And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
   And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
   And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
   By the light of the moon.

Lord Byron (George Gordon)

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Poem of the Day: The Rain
All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.
What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it
that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me
something other than this,
something not so insistent—
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.
Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out
of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.

Robert Creeley, “The Rain” from Selected Poems of Robert Creeley. Copyright © 1991 by the Regents of the University of California. Reprinted with the permission of the University of California Press.

Source: Selected Poems of Robert Creeley(University of California Press, 1991)

Robert Creeley

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Poem of the Day: Listen. Put on Morning
Listen. Put on morning.
Waken into falling light.
A man’s imagining
Suddenly may inherit
The handclapping centuries
Of his one minute on earth.
And hear the virgin juries
Talk with his own breath
To the corner boys of his street.
And hear the Black Maria
Searching the town at night.
And hear the playropes caa
The sister Mary in.
And hear Willie and Davie
Among bracken of Narnain
Sing in a mist heavy
With myrtle and listeners.
And hear the higher town
Weep a petition of fears
At the poorhouse close upon
The public heartbeat.
And hear the children tig
And run with my own feet
Into the netting drag
Of a suiciding principle.
Listen. Put on lightbreak.
Waken into miracle.
The audience lies awake
Under the tenements
Under the sugar docks
Under the printed moments.
The centuries turn their locks
And open under the hill
Their inherited books and doors
All gathered to distil
Like happy berry pickers
One voice to talk to us.
Yes listen. It carries away
The second and the years
Till the heart’s in a jacket of snow
And the head’s in a helmet white
And the song sleeps to be wakened
By the morning ear bright.
Listen. Put on morning.
Waken into falling light.

W. S. Graham, “Listen. Put on Morning” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1980 by W. S. Graham. Reprinted by permission of The Estate of W.S. Graham.

Source: Selected Poems(Ecco Press, 1980)

W. S. Graham

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Poem of the Day: Mirabeau Bridge
Under Mirabeau Bridge the river slips away
          And lovers
    Must I be reminded
Joy came always after pain

         The night is a clock chiming
         The days go by not I

We're face to face and hand in hand
         While under the bridges
    Of embrace expire
Eternal tired tidal eyes

         The night is a clock chiming
         The days go by not I

Love elapses like the river
         Love goes by
    Poor life is indolent
And expectation always violent

         The night is a clock chiming
         The days go by not I

The days and equally the weeks elapse
         The past remains the past
    Love remains lost
Under Mirabeau Bridge the river slips away

         The night is a clock chiming
         The days go by not I

Guillaume Apollinaire. "Mirabeau Bridge" from Alcools, English translation copyright 1995 Donald Revell and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Alcools(Wesleyan University Press, 1995)

Guillaume Apollinaire

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Poem of the Day: With Emma at the Ladies-Only...
In payment for those mornings at the mirror while,
                        at her
            expense, I’d started my late learning in Applied

French Braids, for all
                        the mornings afterward of Hush
            and Just stand still,

to make some small amends for every reg-
            ed bathtime and short-shrifted goodnight kiss,

I did as I was told for once,
                        gave up
            my map, let Emma lead us through the woods

“by instinct,” as the drunkard knew
                        the natural
            prince. We had no towels, we had

no “bathing costumes,” as the children’s novels
                        call them here, and I
            am summer’s dullest hand at un-

premeditated moves. But when
                        the coppice of sheltering boxwood
            disclosed its path and posted

rules, our wonted bows to seemliness seemed
                        poor excuse.
            The ladies in their lumpy variety lay

on their public half-acre of lawn,
                        the water
            lay in dappled shade, while Emma

in her underwear and I
                        in an ill-
            fitting borrowed suit availed us of

the breast stroke and a modified
            She’s eight now. She will rather

die than do this in a year or two
                        and lobbies,
            even as we swim, to be allowed to cut

her hair. I do, dear girl, I will
                        give up
            this honey-colored metric of augmented

thirds, but not (shall we climb
                        on the raft
            for a while?) not yet.

Linda Gregerson, “With Emma at the Ladies-Only Swimming Pool on Hampstead Heath” from The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep. Copyright © 1996 by Linda Gregerson. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: The Woman Who Died in her Sleep(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1996)

Linda Gregerson

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Poem of the Day: The Ocean Inside Him
After Kenji Takezo fell from a wave,
The turbulence of whitewash confused
His sense of direction.
He breathed in
When he should have
Held tight. By accident, he swallowed
The Pacific. The water poured down his throat,
A blue cascade he could not see.
He felt in his stomach
The heavy life of the ocean.
It wasn’t funny, but he giggled
When a school of fish tickled his ribs.
He went home, the surf not rideable,
It was no longer there,
The water weighted in his belly.
That night, while he slept, the tide moved.
The long arms of the moon
Reached inside him pulling the Pacific free.
When he woke the next morning,
He lay in a puddle of ocean that was his.

Rick Noguchi, "The Ocean Inside Him" from The Ocean Inside. Copyright © 1996 by Rick  Noguchi. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: The Ocean Inside(University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996)

Rick Noguchi

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Poem of the Day: Timbered
Round and round they go
             with a ribbon and garlanded
                           flowers in hand.

The bark won't unravel,
             the tree spells solidness—we
                            grand, oaken, elmed selves

of the ancients. Our pith
            is clean. There's no pining
                          away for tomorrow, we are

in current respiration,
            we move with the wind.
                          Singular, we are

stunning. In horde,
              we are dense, differing
                            dream. The autumnal

flashiness these days
             is drought-determined.
                          We barely go beyond

the red. Our hollows
              are never vacant. We live
                             to board; we take

the ax. Marbled inside
             the original stem. We were
                          born we don't know when.

Emily Rosko, "Timbered" from Prop Rockery. Copyright © 2012 by Emily Rosko.  Reprinted by permission of University of Akron Press.

Source: Prop Rockery(University of Akron Press, 2012)

Emily Rosko

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Poem of the Day: Sea Poppies
Amber husk
fluted with gold,
fruit on the sand
marked with a rich grain,

spilled near the shrub-pines
to bleach on the boulders:

your stalk has caught root
among wet pebbles
and drift flung by the sea
and grated shells
and split conch-shells.

Beautiful, wide-spread,
fire upon leaf,
what meadow yields
so fragrant a leaf
as your bright leaf?

Poem of the Day: The Month of June: 13 1/2
As our daughter approaches graduation and   
puberty at the same time, at her
own, calm, deliberate, serious rate,
she begins to kick up her heels, jazz out her   
hands, thrust out her hipbones, chant
I’m great! I’m great! She feels 8th grade coming   
open around her, a chrysalis cracking and   
letting her out, it falls behind her and   
joins the other husks on the ground,
7th grade, 6th grade, the
magenta rind of 5th grade, the
hard jacket of 4th when she had so much pain,   
3rd grade, 2nd, the dim cocoon of
1st grade back there somewhere on the path, and   
kindergarten like a strip of thumb-suck blanket
taken from the actual blanket they wrapped her in at birth.   
The whole school is coming off her shoulders like a   
cloak unclasped, and she dances forth in her   
jerky sexy child’s joke dance of
self, self, her throat tight and a
hard new song coming out of it, while her   
two dark eyes shine
above her body like a good mother and a   
good father who look down and
love everything their baby does, the way she   
lives their love.

Sharon Olds, “The Month of June: 13 1/2” from Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980-2002. Copyright © 2004 by Sharon Olds. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Source: Poetry September 1983

Sharon Olds

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