Oct/Nov 2009 Spotlight

On Alicia Ostriker's Theory of the Nature of Intimacy

by Heather Styka

Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona


On Alicia Ostriker's Theory of the Nature of Intimacy

As I listened to the poet in the orange sweater
speak of mothers, blocked volcanos,
and how we reserve the purest fury
for those we worship,

I thought of how you like to take a pear
from the kitchen counter
and sit on the couch where I am reading,
leaning closer to pat my knee or rub my back.

You will ask how I am enjoying
my book, and as I reply
you commence the sucking and slurping,
gnawing your pear as the juice dribbles

down your chin. My shoulders tighten
like a loaded crossbow
while I consider the consequences
of slapping the pear from your hand

or storming outside with a scream
to rival smoke alarms.
Know, then, that you are near as child,
brother, wife, father. Only for you

does such choler surge in my throat, pressing
against my clavicle. I've opened the door
to my chest so wide that the pulp of a pear
stuck on your lip can send me into fits.


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