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

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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

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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

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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

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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,

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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.