Home After Three Months Away
Gone now the baby's nurse, a lioness who ruled the roost and made the Mother cry. She used to tie gobbets of porkrind in bowknots of gauze-- three months they hung like soggy toast on our eight foot magnolia tree, and helped the English sparrows weather a Boston winter. Three months, three months! Is Richard now himself again? Dimpled with exaltation, my daughter holds her levee in the tub. Our noses rub, each of us pats a stringy lock of hair-- they tell me nothing's gone. Though I am forty-one, not forty now, the time I put away was child's play. After thirteen weeks my child still dabs her cheeks to start me shaving. When we dress her in her sky-blue corduroy, she changes to a boy, and floats my shaving brush and washcloth in the flush. . . . Dearest I cannot loiter here in lather like a polar bear. Recuperating, I neither spin nor toil. Three stories down below, a choreman tends our coffin's length of soil, and seven horizontal tulips blow. Just twelve months ago, these flowers were pedigreed imported Dutchmen; now no one need distinguish them from weed. Bushed by the late spring snow, they cannot meet another year's snowballing enervation. I keep no rank nor station. Cured, I am frizzled, stale and small.
From Selected Poems by Robert Lowell, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1976, 1977 by Robert Lowell. Used by permission.