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A Young Woman, A Tree

Passing that fiery tree—if only she could
Be making love,
Be making poetry,
Be exploding, be speeding through the universe
Like a photon, like a shower
Of yellow blazes—
She believes if she could only overtake
The riding rhythm of things,
Of her own electrons,
Then she would be at rest
If she could forget school,
Climb the tree,
Be the tree,
Burn like that.
She doesn’t know yet, how could she
That this same need
Is going to erupt every September
And that in 40 years the idea will strike her
From no apparent source,
In a Laundromat
Between a washer and a dryer,

Like one of those electric light bulbs
Lighting up near a character’s head in a comic strip—
There in that naked and soiled place
With its detergent machines,
Its speckled fluorescent lights,
Its lint piles broomed into corners as she fumbles for quarters
And dimes, she will start to chuckle and double over
Into the plastic baskets’
Mountain of wet
Bedsheets and bulky overalls—
Old lady! She’ll grin,
beguiled at herself,

Old lady! The desire to burn is already a burning! How about that!

Alicia Suskin Ostriker (Brooklyn, New York, EEUU, 1937). Poetisa y ensayista.

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