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Unspeakable by Sharon Olds

Now I come to look at love
in a new way, now that I know I’m not
standing in its light. I want to ask my
almost-no-longer husband what it’s like to not
love, but he does not want to talk about it,
he wants a stillness at the end of it.
And sometimes I feel as if, already,
I am not here – to stand in his thirty-year
sight, and not in love’s sight,
I feel an invisibility
like a neutron in a cloud chamber buried in a mile-long
accelerator, where what cannot
be seen is inferred by what the visible
does. After the alarm goes off,
I stroke him, my hand feels like a singer
who sings along with him, as if it is
his flesh that’s singing, in its full range,
tenor of the higher vertebrae,
baritone, bass, contrabass.
I want to say to him, now, What
was it like, to love me – when you looked at me,
what did you see? When he loved me, I looked
out at the world as if from inside
a profound dwelling, like a burrow, or a well, I’d gaze
up, at noon, and see Orion
shining – when I thought he loved me, when I thought
we were joined not just for breath’s time,
but for the long continuance,
the hard candies of femur and stone,
the fastnesses. He shows no anger,
I show no anger but in flashes of humour,
all is courtesy and horror. And after
the first minute, when I say, Is this about
her, and he says, No, it’s about
you, we do not speak of her.

Related

Pittsfield poet Sharon Olds wins Britain's T.S. Elliot prize

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Certain Brits may be feeling a tad bent out of shape at the moment. New Hampshire’s own Sharon Olds has won the coveted T.S. Eliot Prize, an award bestowed on an American just once before in its 20-year history. “I was very surprised. It’s very touching to me,” said Olds, who is the first female American to win the prize, … 0

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