Self-Exam

Posted: January 19, 2008 by Doc in Poetry
Tags:

breast.jpg

by Sharon Olds

They tell you it won’t make much sense, at first,
you will have to learn the terrain. they tell you this
at thirty, and fifty, and some are late
beginners, at last lying down and walking
the old earth of the breasts- the small,
cobbled, plowed field of one,
with a listening walking, and then the other-
fingertip-stepping, divining, north
to south, east to west, sectioning
the little fallen hills, sweeping
for mines. And the matter feels primordial,
unimaginable-dense,
cystic,phthistic, each breast like the innards
of a cell, its contents shifting and changing,
streambed gravel under walking feet, it
seems almost unpicturable, not
immemorial, but nearly un-
memorizable, but one marches,
slowly through grave or fatal danger,
or no danger, one feels around in the
two tack-room drawers, ribs and
knots like leather bridles and plaited
harnesses and bits and reins,
one runs one’s hands through the mortal tackle
in a jumble, in the dark, indoors. Outside-
night, in which these glossy ones were
ridden to a froth of starlight, bareback.

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