Monday, May 28, 2012

How Reading Sharon Olds' “The Father” Poems Made Me Feel



“I put my arms around a trunk and squeezed it,
Then I lay down on my father’s grave....
When I kissed the stone it was not enough,
When I licked it my tongue went dry a moment, I
Ate his dust, I tasted my dirt host.” -- From The Father
Such wild and passionate exaggeration. The way this poet 
makes oceans out of tears, volcanoes out of pimples, entire solar systems
out of her self-immolations, writing herself into the burning
center, shining extremely, a star on the verge of collapse,
pulling her father and mother--lifeless planets stuck
in her gravity. The mass of her grief astounds me.
It is light years thick with dust and stones and even
planets of sorrow, not theirs--her own unquenchable agony. 
It’s what draws me in closer, turning the pages, at first 
her pain, though magnetic, seems unimaginable, but then
it becomes visible, more and more real until it 
becomes my own. With every line, she peals away
my peach skin, cuts me open, drops me pitted
into her dark jar, into its radiant sludge, and I feel
so delicate, floating so tenderly that
she could eat me with her gums.