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The Routine Things Around The House

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Written by Stephen Dunn

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 When Mother died
I thought: now I'll have a death poem.
That was unforgivable.
Yet I've since forgiven myself as sons are able to do who've been loved by their mothers.
I stared into the coffin knowing how long she'd live, how many lifetimes there are in the sweet revisions of memory.
It's hard to know exactly how we ease ourselves back from sadness, but I remembered when I was twelve, 1951, before the world unbuttoned its blouse.
I had asked my mother (I was trembling) If I could see her breasts and she took me into her room without embarrassment or coyness and I stared at them, afraid to ask for more.
Now, years later, someone tells me Cancers who've never had mother love are doomed and I, a Cancer feel blessed again.
What luck to have had a mother who showed me her breasts when girls my age were developing their separate countries, what luck she didn't doom me with too much or too little.
Had I asked to touch, Perhaps to suck them, What would she have done? Mother, dead woman Who I think permits me to love women easily this poem is dedicated to where we stopped, to the incompleteness that was sufficient and to how you buttoned up, began doing the routine things around the house.

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