Saturday, August 27, 2022

Ode to the Female Reproductive System by Sharon Olds

Ode to the Female Reproductive System

I first saw you in a simple line
drawing, black and white, on an unfolded
sheet of insertion instructions, the side
view of a girl—a passageway, at a
slant, up and back, to a blunt,
humble thing, like the outline
of a wading bird’s bowed head
made on a wall by a drooped hand
held in the beam of a flashlight in the dark.
Later I saw you in an illustration
in a magazine, in full, damsel
color, the middle sister between
the magenta genie of the rectum and the little
stork dancer of the urinary bladder
up on the fine, slender leg
of the ureter. All three of you
had a rosy enclosedness, but you
were the central grace. And when I saw you, in a textbook
of anatomy, full frontal, I saw
a feral unseeing creature, like a she-ram
with great fallopian horns. In some drawings,
the fimbrial fringe at the frayed end of the
tube was reaching out, with a beckoning
suction, toward the ovary, as if
sirening up an egg—and in others
the entire apparatus of you
looked like a ghost costume, the child in it
making the haunted Woooo, woooo.
But mostly it looked like an instrument, a
graceful lyre, which would be played in me
to call a being forth from another
world, from the future, bringing her own harp with her.

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