Sharon Olds
The Daughter Goes to Camp (1983)


In the taxi alone, home from the airport,


I could not believe you were gone. My palm kept


creeping over the smooth plastic


to find your strong meaty little hand and


squeeze it, find your narrow thigh in the


noble ribbing of the corduroy,


straight and regular as anything in nature, to


find the slack cool cheek of a


child in the heat of a summer morningó


nothing, nothing, waves of bawling


hitting me in hot flashes like some


change of life, some boiling wave


rising in me toward your body, toward


where it should have been on the seat, your


brow curved like a cereal bowl, your


eyes dark with massed crystals like the


magnified scales of a butterfly's wing, the


delicate feelers of your limp hair,


floods of blood rising in my face as I


tried to reassemble the hot


gritty molecules in the car, to


make you appear like a holograph


on the back seat, pull you out of nothing


as I once didóbut you were really gone,


the cab glossy as a slit caul out of


which you had slipped, the air glittering


electric with escape as it does in the room at a birth.