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Short poem

Rosemary Sullivan (1947-)

Farmer's Daughter

              1I spent the longest time
              2trying to find you,
              3the vague woman in a house
              4roaring with a man's need.

              5I searched old photographs --
              6in your anxious hands,
              7that nub of womb-fresh life
              8is me, your face still
              9farm-fresh, warm as an egg.

            10The smallest thirteenth child
            11lost at the back of a family
            12hating cows.

            13I remember your mother's house,
            14the root cellar yawning.
            15When you ran home that time
            16she spoke of made beds
            17and sent you packing.

            18Life was the threat
            19you learned from brothers,
            20hands as big as shovels.
            21You looked for the strong man
            22who came from the sky
            23in a World War II movie
            24to fold his body over you
            25like a cape.

            26It took me years to see
            27the still-born thing
            28you had buried.

            29It surfaced once.

            30On my marriage night
            31you broke your code and cried:
            32"Don't leave me."

            33I hid those words for years
            34knowing we too dug hands like shovels
            35into your life.

Online text copyright © 2004, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Rosemary Sullivan or Black Moss Press permissions department.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The Space a Name Makes (Toronto: Black Moss Press, 1986): 11. PS 8587 .U52 S6 Robarts Library
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2004
Recent editing: 1:2004/7/27

Other poems by Rosemary Sullivan