“Self Portrait” by Linda Pastan

I am child to no one, mother to a few,
wife for the long haul.
On fall days I am happy
with my dying brethren, the leaves,
but in spring my head aches
from the flowery scents.
My husband fills a room with Mozart
which I turn off, embracing
the silence as if it were an empty page
waiting for me alone to fill it.
He digs in the black earth
with his bare hands. I scrub it
from the creases of his skin, longing
for the kind of perfection
that happens in books.
My house is my only heaven.
A red dog sleeps at my feet, dreaming
of the manic wings of flushed birds.
As the road shortens ahead of me
I look over my shoulder
to where it curves back
to childhood, its white line
bisecting the real and the imagined
the way the ridgepole of the spine
divides the two parts of the body, leaving
the soft belly in the center
vulnerable to anything.
As for my country, it blunders along
as well intentioned as Eve choosing
cider and windfalls, oblivious
to the famine soon to come.
I stir pots, bury my face in books, or hold
a telephone to my ear as if its cord
were the umbilicus of the world
whose voices still whisper to me
even after they have left their bodies.

 

Linda Pastan, via Poetry Magazine (October 1997)

4 thoughts on ““Self Portrait” by Linda Pastan

  1. The comments above capture this magic.

    “I look over my shoulder
    to where it curves back
    to childhood, its white line
    bisecting the real and the imagined
    the way the ridgepole of the spine
    divides the two parts of the body, leaving
    the soft belly in the center
    vulnerable to anything.”

    Soothing and smooth – like caramel with a kick. So beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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