Sharon Olds

(November 19, 1942 / San Francisco)

The Daughter Goes To Camp


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 morning—
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 did—but 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.


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Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Rookie - 29 Points Colleen Courtney (5/15/2014 10:57:00 AM)

    A superbly written piece. She captures the honest feelings of a mom letting her child go for the first time. I remember that feeling myself and she captured it so perfectly. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie V.e. Perkins (11/29/2013 5:29:00 PM)

    This woman has a gift for impossible imagery as in glossy as a slit caul out of which you had slipped,
    the air glittering/ electric with escape as it does in the room of a birth. I wonder if she has made a pact with
    the devil. Such brilliance is supernatural. (Report) Reply

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