A Poem For Saturday

Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

Last week I introduced Sharon Olds at a benefit for Red Hen Press in Pasadena. At Knopf in 1983, I was her editor for The Dead and the Living, her second book of poems, winner of both the Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets and the National Book Critics’ Circle award. On the plane to LA two days before the event, I reread a number of her splendid books, all devotedly published by Knopf. Stag’s Leap, from 2012, her compelling collection centered around the end of her marriage—part elegy, part dirge, part paean to all it was—was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and Britain’s T.S.Eliot Prize. We’ll post several poems from that book this weekend and in the days ahead, including a poem especially apt for Thanksgiving.

“The Last Hour” by Sharon Olds:

Suddenly, the last hour
before he took me to the airport, he stood up,
bumping the table, and took a step
toward me, and like a figure in an early
science fiction movie he leaned
forward and down, and opened an arm,
knocking my breast, and he tried to take some
hold of me, I stood and we stumbled,
and then we stood, around our core, his
hoarse cry of awe, at the center,
at the end, of our life. Quickly, then,
the worst was over, I could comfort him,
holding his heart in place from the back
and smoothing it from the front, his own
life continuing, and what had
bound him, around his heart—and bound him
to me—now lying on and around us,
sea-water, rust, light, shards,
the little eternal curls of eros
beaten straight out.

(From Stag’s Leap: Poems by Sharon Olds © 2012 by Sharon Olds. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.)