Sharon Olds

(November 19, 1942 / San Francisco)

Unspeakable - Poem 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 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 humor,
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.


Comments about Unspeakable by Sharon Olds

  • Mohammed Asim Nehal (12/12/2016 1:15:00 PM)


    Nicely thought...
    I show no anger but in flashes of humor,
    all is courtesy and horror. And after
    the first minute, when I say, Is this about
    (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
Read all 1 comments »



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?



Poem Submitted: Wednesday, May 27, 2015



[Report Error]