on the needles

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Silent Poetry Reading

Grace's Poppies is doing a silent poetry reading today. Initially - although I thought it was a great idea - I wasn't going to post one. I'm not the type of a person who is really "into" poetry. Too much of it seem too contrived, too self-conscious, too precious. It is generally off-putting. But I have read several poems I have liked on the knitting blogs today so I finally decided I would share some as well.

This is the only poet whose work I have consistently liked as a whole. Most poets I like a few things here and there but with Sharon Olds I have pretty much liked everything. She writes about being a woman and all of the experience of a woman's life without making me feel like it is a clever gimmick.

Here is probably the first poem of hers I ever read. It speaks to me as a (hopeful) writer who has to live in the real world.


Coming in off the dock after writing,
I approached the house,
and I saw your long grandee face
in the light of a lamp with a parchment shade
the color of flame.

An elegant hand on your beard. Your tapered
eyes found me on the lawn. You looked
as the lord looks down from a narrow window
and you are descended from lords. Calmly, with no
hint of shyness you examined me,
the wife who runs out on the dock to write
as soon as one child is in bed,
leaving the other to you.

Your long
mouth, flexible as an archer's bow,
did not curve. We spent a long moment
in the truth of our situation, the poems
heavy as poached game hanging from my hands.

I also like this one because of it's sheer exuberance and the way it expresses the possibility, power and mystery of femininity in usually masculine terms.

The One Girl at the Boys' Party

When I take my girl to the swimming party
I set her down among the boys. They tower and
bristle, she stands there smooth and sleek,
her math scores unfolding in the air around her.
They will strip to their suits, her body hard and
indivisible as a prime number,
they'll plunge into the deep end, she'll subtract
her height from ten feet, divide it into
hundreds of gallons of water, the numbers
bouncing in her mind like molecules of chlorine
in the bright blue pool. When they climb out,
her ponytail will hang it's pencil lead
down her back, her narrow silk suit
with hamburgers and french fries printed on it
will glisten in the brilliant air, and they will
see her sweet face, solemn and
sealed, a factor of one, and she will
see their eyes, two each,
and their legs, two each, and the curves of their sexes,
on each, and in her head she'll be doing her
wild multiplying, as the drops
sparkle and fall to the power of a thousand from her body.

Go read some more Sharon Olds! :)


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