Marge Piercy

My mother, who had been plump

and then obese, grew thinner each

year of her last eight, till she was

the size of a girl again. Her body

was giving itself to the air, pound

by bit, her soft flesh evaporating

in anticipation. She felt so light

when I hugged her, as if her bones

themselves were hollow as a birdís,

so she might take flight or simply

rise over the house that imprisoned

her and leave my father puttering.

She began giving things away

of the little she had, the jade necklace

my father had given her for an engage-

ment present, a gift he no longer

remembered. Dollar bills skimmed

from grocery money, a shawl,

glass earrings, a souvenir vase.

She was stripping down, moreover

convinced he would pay no attention

to her wishes, so she carried

them out while waiting patiently

for the last door to open, then close.

Marge Piercy has published 17 books of poetry, including What Are Big Girls Made Of, Colors Passing Through Us, and most recently her 17th volume, The Crooked Inheritance, all from Knopf. She has written 17 novels, most recently Sex Wars, now in Harper Perennial paperback, as is her memoir, Sleeping With Cats. Last spring, Schocken published her book Pesach for the Rest of Us. Her work has been translated into 16 languages. Her CD Louder We Can't Hear You Yet contains her political and feminist poems. She had been an editor of Leapfrog Press for ten years until the press was sold two springs ago; she is the poetry editor of Lilith This is her second poem on

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