Friday, October 14, 2016

Douche-Bag Ode by Sharon Olds

Douche-Bag Ode

When I hear the young refer to someone as a
douche bag, I want to say, You may have
never seen a douche bag. They were red
rubber bags, like hot water bottles, you’d
fill it and hang it high enough
so that gravity . . . I can’t go on,
I see my mother’s douche bag, my poor
douche-bag mom’s pathetic douche bag with its
clamps, and its aorta tubes,
dangling over the bathtub, awesomely
shameful, and which reminded me I
’d been some kind of catsup Halloween
costume in her, almost before I was
bipedal. And so to call someone a
saline sac—Let’s take some pity
on the creepiness of how women were treated
in the 1950s. It drove my mother
crazy, but she did the best she could—
she never turned and said, I could have got
rid of you, my little valentine,
but I gave you the warm, rose-colored lunch bag
of the placenta: I gave you my heart to eat.
And now I remember it, not my mother’s
but mine, like a dowry—lock the door, then,
hang it from the shower rod like food hung over
a bough, out of animal reach,
slide the perforated wand inside you then un-
clasp the clamp, and Lo!, you are
a night clearing, in which a fountain o
f Aphrodite leaps up, her brine
sea chanty, her sparkling douche-bag song.

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