Little Things

Poem for a Tuesday

Little Things

by Sharon Olds

“After she’s gone to camp, in the early
evening I clear Liddy’s breakfast dishes
from the rosewood table, and find a small
crystallized pool of maple syrup, the
grains standing there, round, in the night, I
rub it with my fingertip
as if I could read it, this raised dot of
amber sugar, and this time,
when I think of my father, I wonder why
I think of my father, of the beautiful blood-red
glass in his hand, or his black hair gleaming like a
broken-open coal. I think I learned to
love the little things about him
because of all the big things
I could not love, no one could, it would be wrong to.
So when I fix on this image of resin
or sweep together with the heel of my hand a
pile of my son’s sunburn peels like
insect wings, where I peeled his back the night before camp,
I am doing something I learned early to do, I am
paying attention to small beauties,
whatever I have–as if it were our duty to
find things to love, to bind ourselves to this world.”

in Claiming the Spirit Within. Ed. Marilyn Sewell. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996.

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