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from the Song Cycle "Seven For Luck"

Music by John Williams
Lyrics by Rita Dove


no recording available



Everything's a metaphor, some wise
guy said, and his woman nodded wisely.
Why was this such a discovery to him?
She's watched an embryo track an arc
across her swollen belly from the inside.
She knew she'd better not think
tumor or burrowing mole, lest it emerge
a monster. Each craving marks the soul:
splashed white dish of ice cream, coveted,
or a pickle! Every wish will find
its symbol, the woman thinks.

The conspiracy's to make us thin. Size threes are all
the rage, and skirts ballooning above twinkling knees
are every man-child's preadolescent dream.
Tabula rasa. No slate's that clean-

we've earned our navels sunk in grief,
our muscles say We've been used.

Have you ever tried silk sheets? I did
persuaded by postnatal dread
and a Macy's clerk to bargain for more zip.
We couldn't hang on and slipped
to the floor, by morning the guilt
slid off, too. Enough of guilt!
It's hard work staying cool.