Ego

written by Denise Duhamel

Ego

— Denise Duhamel

I just didn't get it—
even with the teacher holding an orange (the earth) in one hand
and a lemon (the moon) in the other,
her favorite student (the sun) standing behind her with a flashlight.
I just couldn't grasp it—
this whole citrus universe, these bumpy planets revolving so slowly
no one could even see themselves moving.
I used to think if I could only concentrate hard enough
I could be the one person to feel what no one else could,
sense a small tug from the ground, a sky shift, the earth changing gears.
Even though I was only one mini-speck on a speck,
even though I was merely a pinprick in one goosebump on the orange,
I was sure then I was the most specially perceptive, perceptively sensitive.
I was sure then my mother was the only mother to snap,
"The world doesn't revolve around you!"
The earth was fragile and mostly water,
just the way the orange was mostly water if you peeled it,
just the way I was mostly water if you peeled me.
Looking back on that third grade science demonstration,
I can understand why some people gave up on fame or religion or cures—
especially people who have an understanding
of the excruciating crawl of the world,
who have a well-developed sense of spatial reasoning
and the tininess that it is to be one of us.
But not me—even now I wouldn't mind being god, the force
who spins the planets the way I spin a globe, a basketball, a yoyo.
I wouldn't mind being that teacher who chooses the fruit,
or that favorite kid who gives the moon its glow.

About the poet


Denise Duhamel

Duhamel received her B.F.A. from Emerson College and her M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. She is a New York Foundation for the Arts recipient and has been resident poet at Bucknell University. She has had residencies at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. Duhamel's earliest books take a feminist slant, beginning with Smile (1993) and Girl Soldier (1996); The Woman with Two Vaginas (1995) explores Eskimo folklore from the same perspective. Her best selling and most popular book to date, Kinky (1997), marries her bent for satire, humor, and feminism in portraying an icon of popular culture, the Barbie doll, through an extended series of satirical postures ("Beatnik Barbie," "Buddhist Barbie," etc.). Two collections that followed, The Star Spangled Banner (1998) and...

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