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Genetic Expedition

September 17, 1989

Rita Dove

Each evening I see my breasts slacker, black-tipped like the heavy plugs on hot water bottles; each day resembling more the spiked fruits dangling from natives in the National Geographic my father forbade us to read.

Each morning I drop coffee onto my blouse and tear into one slice of German bread, thin layer of margarine, radishes, the years spreading across my dark behind, even more sumptuous after childbirth, the part of me I swore to relish

always. My child has her father's hips, his hair like the miller's daughter, combed gold. Though her lips are mine, housewives stare when we cross the parking lot because of that ghostly profusion. You can't be cute, she says. You're big. She's lost her toddler's belly, that seaworthy prow. She regards me with serious eyes, power-lit, atomic gaze I'm sucked into, sheer through to

the gray brain of sky.\f7

From "Grace Notes" (W. W. Norton: $16.95; 73 pp.; 0-393-02719-8). Dove was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Pulitzer Prize (for her third book of poems, "Thomas and Beulah"). She teaches creative writing at the University of Virginia. 1989, Rita Dove. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton, Inc.

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