Sharon Olds
The Enchantment

When I said, to my mother, What was a good
thing about me as a child?
, my mother’s
face seemed to unfurl from the center,
hibiscus in fast motion, the anthers
and flounces springing out with joy.  Oh you were
enchanting,
she breathed.  What do you mean --
crazy?  No sense of reality?
No-no,
she laughed, with many little notes --
half a scale, plus grace notes -- I don’t
know how to say it, you were just. . .
enchanting.  Possessed?,
I asked.  Brain-damaged?
No, she smiled.  There was something about you --
the way you looked at things.
  I thought I got it:
that stunned look on my face, in photos,
that dumbstruck look, gaze of someone
who doesn’t understand anything.
But a week later, I thought it had been a look
of wonder, it was bemused pleasure.
And days later, I see it -- that light
on my mother’s face -- she loved me.  And today
I hear her, she did not say enchanted.
The woman in whose thrall I was
was in my thrall.  I came into being
within her silks and masses, and after we are
gone would she caper here, my first
love, would she do me the honor of continued ensorcelling?

 

 
Found In Volume 47, No. 04
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Sharon Olds
About the Author

Sharon Olds's most recent book is Arias (Penguin/Random House, 2019). Among her many honors are the Pulitzer Prize, the T.S. Eliot Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She teaches poetry workshops at New York University’s Graduate Creative Writing Program.