Sharon Olds
Looking at Them Asleep (ca. 1988)

 

When I come home late at night and go in to kiss the children,

 

I see my girl with her arm curled around her head,

 

her face deep in unconsciousness—so

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deeply centered she is in her dark self,

 

her mouth slightly puffed like one sated but

 

slightly pouted like one who hasn’t had enough,

 

her eyes so closed you would think they have rolled the

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iris around to face the back of her head,

 

the eyeball marble-naked under that

 

thick satisfied desiring lid,

 

she lies on her back in abandon and sealed completion,

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and the son in his room, oh the son he is sideways in his bed,

 

one knee up as if he is climbing

 

sharp stairs up into the night,

 

and under his thin quivering eyelids you

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know his eyes are wide open and

 

staring and glazed, the blue in them so

 

anxious and crystally in all this darkness, and his

 

mouth is open, he is breathing hard from the climb

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and panting a bit, his brow is crumpled

 

and pale, his long fingers curved,

 

his hand open, and in the center of each hand

 

the dry dirty boyish palm

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resting like a cookie. I look at him in his

 

quest, the thin muscles of his arms

 

passionate and tense, I look at her with her

 

face like the face of a snake who has swallowed a deer,

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content, content—and I know if I wake her she’ll

 

smile and turn her face toward me though

 

half asleep and open her eyes and I

 

know if I wake him he’ll jerk and say Don’t and sit

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up and stare about him in blue

 

unrecognition, oh my Lord how I

 

know these two. When love comes to me and says

 

What do you know, I say This girl, this boy.