The Hypnotist's Daughter

By Lisa Olstein b. 1972 Lisa Olstein
At the London Zoo a toddler falls over the rail
of the Primate World only if you close your eyes

and a female gorilla comes to sit by, to circle
her long dark arm around him only this one time

while the others stay away. The zookeeper says
she lost a baby earlier this year only just barely

and they’ve been waiting months for her tits to dry.
The boy’s mother watches from above

only when I say so the thirty minutes it takes
the right person to lower the right ladder down

only as a last resort. In the interim a newscaster
whose station carries it live only if you promise

not to let go reports that dolphins and sometimes
certain whales rescue people stranded at sea

only when I close my eyes lift them to the air
when they need breathing or swim them close enough

to land. In the interim I imagine the span of time
from when the smooth hard snout finds me

and begins to push only if you promise not to tell
to when we come into view of a shore only this once

any shore. In the interim I pray for what should come
to come. I pray for the cat to come out from under

the floorboards only every once in a while to come
down from the tall maple, to come back alive

only if you say so in one piece, still in her collar.
I pray to be saved, to be sent far away, to be

allowed to just stay home only another month or two
just stay home and erase the objects in each room

with my mind while holding them in my hands
only a matter of time now. I do want to hold them

in my hands, to hold them to my lungs by way
of deep breath only since July and a deeper sense

of inhalation. I pray for you only just this once
to press out from the small veins at the back of my eyes

only you back out into the world. I pray for you
to come and sit by me only a few more minutes now.

Lisa Olstein, "The Hypnotist’s Daughter" from Radio Crackling, Radio Gone (Copper Canyon Press, 2006). www.coppercanyonpress.org

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

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Poet Lisa Olstein b. 1972

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Growing Old, Life Choices, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Nature, Animals