Sharon Olds
 

Sharon Olds

Psalm

Bending over, at the August table
where the summer towels are kept, putting
a stack on the bottom shelf, I  felt his
kiss, in its shock of whiskers, on an inner
curve of that place I know by his knowing,
have seen with the vision of his touch. To be entered
thus, on a hip-high table piled with
sheaves of towels, bath and hand,
terry-cloth eden, is to feel at one’s center
a core of liquid heat as if
one is an earth. Some time later,
we were kissing in near sleep, I think
we did it this time, I whispered, I think
we’re joined at the hip. He has a smile sometimes
from the heart; at this hour, I live in its light.
I gnaw very gently on his jaw, Would you want me to
eat you, in the Andes, in a plane crash, I murmur,
to survive? Yes. We smile. He asks,
Would you want me to eat you to survive? I would love it,
I cry out. We almost sleep, there is a series of
arms around us and between us, in sets,
touches given as if received. Did you think
we were going to turn into each other?, and I get
one of those smiles, as if his face
is a speckled, rubbled, sandy, satiny
cactus-flower eight inches across.
Yes, he whispers. I know he is humoring,
rote sweet-talking. A sliver of late
sun is coming through, between the curtains,
it illumines the scaly surfaces
of my knuckles, its line like a needle held,
to cleanse it, above a match. I move
my wedding finger to stand in the slit
of flame. From the ring’s curve there rises
a fan of borealis fur
like the first instant of sunrise. Do not
tell me this could end. Do not tell me.

 

 

From THE UNSWEPT ROOM (Knopf, 2002)

 

 

Poems by Sharon Olds

I Go Back to May 1937

Psalm

Stag’s Leap

April, New Hampshire  

April, New Hampshire
(Available as a broadside.)