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About this Poem 

"In Ovid, desire can change anyone into...anything. In the supermarket, it happened just the way the poem says: I’m afraid I met her eyes an instant too long. (When I glimpsed the same woman a few weeks later she didn’t look like my mother at all.)"
—James Richardson

Metamorphosis

The week after you died, Mom,
you were in my checkout line,
little old lady who met my stare
with the fear, the yearning
of a mortal chosen by a god,
feeling herself change
painfully cell by cell
into a shadow, a laurel, you, a constellation.

Copyright © 2013 by James Richardson. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 28, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by James Richardson. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 28, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

James Richardson

James Richardson

James Richardson is the author of During (Copper Canyon Press, 2016).

by this poet

poem

So much on the verge
of flame.
In a hot
wind anything
is tinder: paper, sage

feverish with bees,
your auburn
hair, my hand
that glows with a thought.
Sunset

or sleepless dawn,
nothing is sure
but what’s already burned—
water that’s ash, steel

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