Seventy years ago my mother labored to bear me,
A twelve-pound baby with a big head,
Her first, it was plain torture. Finally they used the forceps
And dragged me out, with one prong
In my right eye, and slapped and banged me until I breathed.
I am not particularly grateful for it.
As to the eye: it remained invalid and now has a cataract.
It can see gods and spirits in its cloud,
And the weird end of the world: the left one’s for common daylight.
As to my mother:
A rather beautiful young woman married to a grim clergyman
Twenty-two years older than she:
She had her little innocent diversions, her little travels in Europe—
And once for scandal kissed the Pope’s ring—
Perhaps her life was no emptier than other lives. Both parents
Swim in my blood and distort my thought but the old man’s welcome.