Peeled Grapes


 Sharon Olds


When I call my mother on Mother's Day

I thank her again for making me, and for

lamb chops, for smocked dresses, for Buster Brown

Mary Janes, my metatarsals

blue in the radiation box. She laughs, she loves this,

she says, I hope you haven't forgotten

that I peeled you grapes, when you were sick.

You what?! When you were sick, I would give you

a bowl of peeled, chilled grapes.

She giggles. I cannot see it, my mother

giving me a cold bowl

of eyeball glitter, and then I can see

it is a Pyrex dish, there is chill and light and

time and work all over the place,

ovals of pallid mesh, flay

to cheer me up, her labor turned

to my little joy. It is true she tied me

to a chair one day, but she brought me alphabet

soup. It is true she was hairbrush-wild

and lay on top of me poor dotty

soul, for me to pray for her

while she cried on me, but my mother with her long

entranced erotic fingernails

peeled grapes for me, she did not mean it

but she said it: Be yourself.