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Poem: August by Mary Oliver

A Place for Mom Staff
By A Place for Mom StaffAugust 4, 2014
Poem: August

Poem: August

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August

by Mary Oliver

Our neighbor, tall and blonde and vigorous, the mother

of many children, is sick. We did not know she was sick,

but she has come to the fence, walking like a woman

who is balancing a sword inside of her body, and besides

that her long hair is gone, it is short and, suddenly, gray.

I don’t recognize her. It even occurs to me that it might

be her mother. But it’s her own laughter-edged voice,

we have heard it for years over the hedges.

All summer the children, grown now and some of them

with children of their own, come to visit. They swim,

they go for long walks at the harbor, they make

dinner for twelve, for fifteen, for twenty. In the early

morning two daughters come to the garden and slowly

go through the precise and silent gestures of T’ai Chi.

They all smile. Their father smiles too, and builds

castles on the shore with the children, and drives back to

the city, and drives back to the country. A carpenter is

hired—a roof repaired, a porch rebuilt. Everything that can be fixed.

June, July, August. Every day, we hear their laughter. I

think of the painting by van Gogh, the man in the chair.

Everything wrong, and nowhere to go. His hands over his eyes.

A Place for Mom Staff
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A Place for Mom Staff

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