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by Sharon Olds


Then, one late afternoon,
I understand: the harm my father
did us is receding. I never thought
it would happen, I thought his harm was stronger than that,
like God’s harm—flood, or birth without
eyes, with mounds of tissue, no retina, no
iris, the way my father on the couch did not
seem not to be using eyes
but not to have them, or to have objects
for eyes—Jocastal dress-brooches.
But he had not been hated, so he did not hate us,
just scorned us, and it is wearing off.
My son and daughter are grown, they are well
as if by some miracle. The afternoon
has a quality of miracle, the starlings all facing
the west, his grave. I come to the window
as if to open it and whisper
My father’s harm is fading. Then
I think that he would be glad to hear it
directly from me,

so I come to where you are, bone
settled under the dewed tangle
of the blackish Northwoods moss like the soft
hair of a beloved. I come to you here
because it is home: your done-with body
broken back down into earth, holding
its solemn incapable beauty.

 

Named New York State Poet in 1998, Sharon Olds teaches poetry workshops at New York University’s Graduate Creative Writing Program, along with a workshop at Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island in New York. Her most recent book of poetry is Blood, Tin, Straw (Knopf, 1999). (2002)


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