The Sash - Poem by Sharon Olds
The first ones were attached to my dress
at the waist, one on either side,
right at the point where hands could clasp you and
pick you up, as if you were a hot
squeeze bottle of tree syrup, and the
sashes that emerged like axil buds from the
angles of the waist were used to play horses, that
racing across the cement while someone
held your reins and you could feel your flesh
itself in your body wildly streaming.
You would come home, a torn-off sash
dangling from either hand, a snake-charmer—
each time, she sewed them back on with
thicker thread, until the seams of
sash and dress bulged like little
knots of gristle at your waist as you walked, you could
feel them like thumbs pressing into your body.
The next sash was the one Thee, Hannah!
borrowed from her be-ribboned friend
and hid in a drawer and got salve on it,
salve on a sash, like bacon grease on a snake,
God's lard on the ribbon a Quaker girl
should not want, Satan's jism on
silk delicate as the skin of a young girl's genital.
When Hannah gave up satin her father
told her she was beautiful
just as God made her. But all sashes
lead to the sash, very sash of
very sash, begotten, not made, that my
aunt sent from Switzerland—
cobalt ripple of Swiss cotton with
clean boys and girls dancing on it.
I don't know why my mother chose it to
tie me to the chair with, her eye just
fell on it, but the whole day I
felt those blue children dance
around my wrists. Later someone
told me they had found out
the universe is a kind of strip that
twists around and joins itself, and I believe it,
sometimes I can feel it, the way we are
pouring slowly toward a curve and around it
through something dark and soft, and we are bound to
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