Tuesday, March 11, 2014


He lay on the couch night after night,
mouth open, the darkness of the room
filling his mouth, and no one knew
my father was eating his children.  He seemed to
rest so quietly, vast body
inert on the sofa, big hand
fallen away from the glass.
What could be more passive than a man
passed out every night--and yet as he lay
on his back, snoring, our lives slowly
disappeared down the hole of his life.
My brother's arm went in up to the shoulder
and he bit it off, and sucked at the wound
as one sucks at the sockets of lobster.  He took
my brother's head between his lips
and snapped it like a cherry off the stem.  You would have seen
only a large, handsome man
heavily asleep, unconscious.  And yet
somewhere in his head his soil-colored eyes
were open, the circles of the whites glittering
as he crunched the torso of his child between his jaws,
crushed the bones like the soft shells of crabs
and the delicacies of the genitals
rolled back along his tongue.  In the nerves of his gums and
bowels he knew what he was doing and he could not
stop himself, like orgasm, his
boy's feet crackling like two raw fish
between his teeth.  This is what he wanted,
to take that life into his mouth
and show what a man could do--show his son
what a man's life was.
In honor of Women's History Month in the United States, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite poets.
I became acquainted with the work of Sharon Olds in the late 1980s. This poem was in her first poetry book, Satan Says.
Olds was born in 1942 in San Francisco; she is about the same age as my mother. Olds received her Ph.D. in English from Columbia University.
She won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and has won many other awards for her work. While she has not yet passed into history, her work had a profound effect on me while I was an undergraduate at Hollins College. I went to hear her read at Roanoke College in the early 1990s.
I own many of her books and they are among my prized possessions, especially the autographed ones. She has 11 collections of poetry.
You can listen to her read a little and discuss a poem in an interview with The Guardian here. Search for her on youtube and you can hear her read other poems, too (though I could not find her reading Saturn). If you like poetry and are not familiar with Olds, I urge you to give her work a try.

1 comment:

  1. You always have such great pics of celestial bodies.


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