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Born, I was born.

In sweat and tears I lay on a flowered blanket

before a chrome bucket of ice and a bladed fan.

My mind is clear as polished glass,

my hair a tangle of black moss.I fall down

on the grass in my harness, laughing.

Father is doing his skits and antics,

running and sliding, dropping his trousers.

His starched shirts are strict and ghostly,

they hang on a line over the bathtub.

Dying, Mother is dying, pale in her housecoat.

I am learning to run faster and faster,

I can feel the blood in my ears.

Great Aunt Nell is large as a boat with her

slick jersey dresses and embroidered handkerchiefs.

Flying, dust motes are flying, in a caduceus of light

between the studio couch and the radiator.

Family arrives on the train in the rain

carrying leather grips and hatboxes.

The self blooms,

a chrysalis of sorrow.

Patricia, the soft reticule of her mouth

pulls me from my dry cave.

I drink Father’s gin with Robert,

suck sweet smoke from a plug of blond hash.

The police are shoving into the crowd with tear gas and rifles,

we do a day in a cell with no window.

I eat rice from a red lacquer bowl,

green tea singes my tongue.

The riderless horse leads the procession.

Fever carries me out of my body.

Father: “Listen at this;

I have written it down.”

Mother: “This is the table they have laid before me.

I am not afraid.”

from Dear AllFind more by Maggie Anderson at the library

Copyright © 2017 Maggie Anderson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in Maggie Anderson Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.