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Wonder as Wander

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At dusk, on those evenings she does not go out,   
my mother potters around her house.   
Her daily helpers are gone, there is no one   
there, no one to tell what to do,
she wanders, sometimes she talks to herself,   
fondly scolding, sometimes she suddenly   
throws out her arms and screams—high notes   
lying here and there on the carpets   
like bodies touched by a downed wire,
she journeys, she quests, she marco-polos through   
the gilded gleamy loot-rooms, who is she.   
I feel, now, that I do not know her,
and for all my staring, I have not seen her
—like the song she sang, when we were small,   
I wonder as I wander, out under the sky,   
how Jesus, the Savior, was born for, to die,   
for poor lonely people, like you, and like I
—on the slow evenings alone, when she delays   
and delays her supper, walking the familiar   
halls past the mirrors and night windows,   
I wonder if my mother is tasting a life   
beyond this life—not heaven, her late   
beloved is absent, her father absent,   
and her staff is absent, maybe this is earth   
alone, as she had not experienced it,   
as if she is one of the poor lonely people,   
as if she is born to die. I hold fast
to the thought of her, wandering in her house,   
a luna moth in a chambered cage.
Fifty years ago, I’d squat in her
garden, with her Red Queens, and try
to sense the flyways of the fairies as they kept
the pollen flowing on its local paths,
and our breaths on their course of puffs—they kept   
our eyes wide with seeing what we
could see, and not seeing what we could not see.



Sharon Olds, “Wonder as Wander” 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: Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004)
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Wonder as Wander

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