Matthew Ladd


The Pacific Ocean, to a child of three,

sounds like a push-broom in his mother's kitchen.

Life took us elsewhere: like other boys, I learned

to read, almost drowned in a neighbor's pool,

was bitten by insects, studied constellations.

Years later, in New York, I read Ibsen's Ghosts

and pictured myself as Oswald, rotting from syphilis,

my mother orbiting me like a hummingbird.


She came up to the city, once, and we visited

the terraced Guggenheim, the sober Frick,

and the Central Park carousel, with its unison

of open-mouthed horses.  The unlucky ones

galloped stiffly along the edge.  When it slowed,

we walked off holding hands like a married couple

but said little, because my brother had gotten sick.

She was so small.  I could carry her, if I wanted.