~ Hal Borland
|Vintage postcard of Washington DC's Tidal Basin|
Library of Congress
For National Poetry Month, I'm sharing a poem by Sharon Olds. It's from her most recent collection, Stag's Leap, a magnificent book that tells the story of the end of her thirty-two year marriage. Her poems record her shock and grief and doubt and rage at her husband (who left her for another woman) and herself with such searing honesty that I literally winced when reading some of them. Eventually, she starts to heal herself. But she is changed.
This poem is from the first half of Stag's Leap, where she is still quite raw and flooded by thoughts of what was.
When they say, If there are any doctors aboard,
would they make themselves known, I remember when my then
husband would rise, and I would get to be
the one he rose from beside. They say now
that it does not work, unless you are equal.
And after those first thirty years,
I was not the one he wanted to rise from
or return to — not I but she who would also
rise, when such were needed. Now I see them,
lifting, side by side, on wide,
medical, wading-bird wings — like storks with the
doctor bags of like-loves-like
dangling from their beaks. Oh well. It was the way
it was he did not feel happy when words
were called for, and I stood.
You can see Sharon Olds read her poem in this PBS interview.
For more poetry by Sharon olds, visit:
Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 18th!