...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

January 24, 2007

Wednesday is Poetry Day: Sharon Olds

Reading a Sharon Olds poem is like drinking a very fine brandy. It'll go down like pink lemonaide, then knock you on your butt when you don't expect it. I once mentioned Sharon Olds to a poet friend, and she remarked Ms. Olds, "...doesn't waste a word." Nope, not a bit, even when most of them are given to her. In The Father, Ms. Olds learned something new about her father.

His Stillness

The doctor said to my father, “You asked me
to tell you when nothing more could be done.
That’s what I’m telling you now.” My father
sat quite still, as he always did,
especially not moving his eyes. I had thought
he would rave if he understood he would die,
wave his arms and cry out. He sat up,
thin, and clean, in his clean gown,
like a holy man. The doctor said,
“There are things we can do which might give you time,
but we cannot cure you.” My father said,
“Thank you.” And he sat, motionless, alone,
with the dignity of a foreign leader.
I sat beside him. This was my father.
He had known he was mortal. I had feared they would have to
tie him down. I had not remembered
he had always held still and kept quiet to bear things,
the liquor a way to keep still. I had not
known him. My father had dignity. At the
end of his life his life began
to wake in me.

Posted by Victor, Jan. 24, 2007 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry


I'd never read that piece...in fact, I am (was?) unfamiliar with Sharon Olds.

But...wow...that's some good and very powerful stuff. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Robbie on Jan. 24, 2007

Annie, I love Sharon Olds and I love this poem. I don't know why it didn't come to mind when my Dad was dying last year; other Olds poems did but not this one.

No one writes the body in all its messy wonder better than she does.

Posted by: Hugo on Jan. 24, 2007

Heh shithead, you finally found something good.

Posted by: Casca on Jan. 24, 2007

Casca, yuo have a way of dropping the proverbial turd in the punchbowl at exactly the correct moment.

That takes practice.

Posted by: shelly on Jan. 24, 2007

Heh, ya gotta be good at something.

Posted by: Casca on Jan. 24, 2007

That says a lot. Good choice!

Posted by: Joules on Jan. 24, 2007

Annika, I have all of Sharon Olds's books!

One day I will have to e-mail you about my LEAST favorite of her poems. It's a doozy.

Posted by: Mark on Jan. 25, 2007

Thank Victor, he's awesome and the poem was his choice!

Posted by: annika on Jan. 26, 2007

Mark--It's "The Pope's Penis," isn't it?

Posted by: Victor on Jan. 26, 2007


Good guess, but there's another. (By the way, I really disliked that one too.)

Posted by: Mark on Jan. 26, 2007