The Pulling

Every hour now, he is changing
shedding some old ability.
Knees up, body tin-coloured,
hair black and grey, thick with
grease like ritual unguent, my father
moves, hour by hour, head-first
towards death. I sense every inch of him moving
through me towards it, the way each child
moved, slowly, down through my body,
as if I were God feeling the rivers
pulling steadily through, the universe
itself hauled through me heavily and easily,
drawn through my body like a napkin through a ring –
as if my father could live and die
safely inside me.

Sharon Olds


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