Amherst Ballad Four

Outside your Room—in the Wain’s Coat—
Below an Outlet—in the Hall—
Rolled Pill—Armadillo
Gray—Sowbug Eden Shell.

Emerald Head Spiked—with Hair
Arrows—Buzzless Fly—
Barbed Leg cocked—a Quiver
Of Harrows Bristle Thigh.

On your Desk—Oak Penshaft—
Necklaced with Pearl—Iron Nib—
Well of Crystal—Murex Ink—
Collar chased with Hachures of Sheaf.

Lines of Lumen—Curve and Ascend
Your Hurricane Lamp Throat
And Ring its Glass Mouth—and Light—
Your Counterpane—Quilt.

Supine then—on Jute Matting—
I inched my Way—under your Bed—
Sleigh of Cherry Burl. As a Child—
I would Wake—under—in in’s stead.

Now Lanyard on my Wrist—from my Girl—
And Porcupine Quill and Coconut Shell
And Bead Bracelet—from Didi and Major—
And the Jane Austen Pendant—from Lucille.

Rose Quartz—in Sterling—Ring—
From my Elder—Sister—Patricia—
Aquamarine—in White Gold—
From our Mother’s elder Sister—Patricia.

Raiment Guard me—between Flocked
Walls near Small—White—Dress.
Chair to Match—the one I was Trussed to—
Gilt Grain—Cross-Piece of Hitchcock.

When my Mom Tied me—she fed me—by Spoon—
Alphabet Soup.
I Love being—Here alone—
For Everyone.

And Shake Sparks—of Luxury
Onto the Paper Wall—Like a Dog—
Here in your Home—Emily—
Mother of Necessity.

More from Sharon Olds:

Kunitzieform,” a poem