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Home After Three Months Away

 Gone now the baby's nurse,
a lioness who ruled the roost
and made the Mother cry.
She used to tie gobbets of porkrind to bowknots of gauze— three months they hung like soggy toast on our eight foot magnolia tree, and helped the English sparrows weather a Boston winter.
Three months, three months! Is Richard now himself again? Dimpled with exaltation, my daughter holds her levee in the tub.
Our noses rub, each of us pats a stringy lock of hair— they tell me nothing's gone.
Though I am forty-one, not fourty now, the time I put away was child's play.
After thirteen weeks my child still dabs her cheeks to start me shaving.
When we dress her in her sky-blue corduroy, she changes to a boy, and floats my shaving brush and washcloth in the flush.
Dearest I cannot loiter here in lather like a polar bear.
Recuperating, I neither spin nor toil.
Three stories down below, a choreman tends our coffin length of soil, and seven horizontal tulips blow.
Just twelve months ago, these flowers were pedigreed imported Dutchmen, now no one need distunguish them from weed.
Bushed by the late spring snow, they cannot meet another year's snowballing enervation.
I keep no rank nor station.
Cured, I am frizzled, stale and small.

Poem by Robert Lowell
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