Monday, April 15, 2013

Sharon Olds: Not Going To Him

Sharon Olds' Stag's Leap just won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. It's mesmerizing, brilliant work. I'm re-posting this to celebrate:

Minute by minute, I do not get up and just
go to him –
by day, twenty blocks away;
by night, due across the city's
woods, where night-crowned heron sleep.
It is what I do now: not go, not
see or touch. And after eleven
million six hundred sixty-four thousand
minutes of not, I am a stunned knower
of not. Then I let myself picture him
a moment: the bone that seemed to surface in his
wrist after I had held my father's
hand in coma; then up, over
his arm, with its fold, from which for a friend
he gave his blood. Then a sense of his presence
returns, his flesh which seemed, to me,
made as if before the Christian
God existed, a north-island baby's
body become a man's, with that pent
spirit, its heels dug in, those time-worn
heels, those elegant flat feet;
and then, in a sweep, calf shin knee thigh pelvis
waist, and I run my irises
over his feathered chest, and on his neck,
the scar, dollhouse saucer of tarnish
set in time's throat, and up to the nape and then
dive again, as the swallows fly
at speed – cliff and barn and bank
and tree – at twilight, just over the surface
of a sloping terrain. He is alive, he breathes
and moves! My body may never learn
not to yearn for that one, or this could be
a first farewell to him, a life-do-us-part.

-- Sharon Olds (from "Stag's Leap"-- more here)


Lainey said...

I adore these poems ... Speak to me and my condition ,. At least how it was for 6 years after the brutal end..Thanks for sharing.

Jo Crisp said...

I went to the readings before the announcement of the TS Eliot poetry prize this year. It was fantastic, 2000 people in the Royal Festival Hall, listening to poetry.
I liked most of them but the final person reading was an Californian hippie type who had written poems about the breakup of her marriage. She'll never win I thought, too hippy and girly stuff. Shows how much I know about poetry.

Marcheline said...

Wow. Can't tell if this is about her dad dying, or her husband. I suppose it doesn't really matter, because loss is loss...

Anonymous said...

Marcheline, It's about her husband leaving her.