Life with Sick Kids


One child coughs once
and is sick for eight weeks, then the other child coughs so
hard he nearly vomits, three weeks, and then
stops and then the first child coughs a first cough,
and then the other delicately and dryly begins to cough,
death taking them up and shaking them
as kids shake boxes at Christmas. So in bed on the
third day of the blood when it would be
almost safe to use nothing,
just a tiny door left open for a resourceful child,
I cannot see or feel or smell you, I keep
thinking I hear the unconceived one
cough a little introductory cough.


Sharon Olds, The Gold Cell, Alfred A. Knopf, 1987.