Sharon Olds was born in 1942 in San Francisco. She was raised as a “hellfire Calvinist”, as she describes it. She says she was by nature "a pagan and a pantheist" and notes "I was in a church where there was both great literary art and bad literary art, the great art being psalms and the bad art being hymns. The four-beat was something that was just part of my consciousness from before I was born." She adds "I think I was about 15 when I conceived of myself as an atheist, but I think it was only very recently that I can really tell that there's nobody there with a copybook making marks against your name." After graduating from Stanford University... more »
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Sharon Olds Poems
Sometimes I can almost see, around our heads, Like gnats around a streetlight in summer, The children we could have, The glimmer of them.
When Mother divorced you, we were glad. She took it and took it in silence, all those years and then kicked you out, suddenly, and her kids loved it. Then you were fired, and we
Then dirt scared me, because of the dirt he had put on her face. And her training bra scared me—the newspapers, morning and evening, kept saying it, training bra,
We decided to have the abortion, became killers together. The period that came changed nothing. They were dead, that young couple who had been for life.
When the Dean said we could not cross campus until the students gave up the buildings, we lay down, in the street, we said the cops will enter this gate
To say that she came into me, from another world, is not true. Nothing comes into the universe and nothing leaves it.
She was four, he was one, it was raining, we had colds, we had been in the apartment two weeks straight, I grabbed her to keep her from shoving him over on his face, again, and when I had her wrist
I have heard about the civilized, the marriages run on talk, elegant and honest, rational. But you and I are savages. You come in with a bag, hold it out to me in silence.
The Mortal One
Three months after he lies dead, that long yellow narrow body, not like Christ but like one of his saints, the naked ones in the paintings whose bodies are
The Daughter Goes To Camp
In the taxi alone, home from the airport, I could not believe you were gone. My palm kept creeping over the smooth plastic to find your strong meaty little hand and
The Space Heater
On the then-below-zero day, it was on, near the patients' chair, the old heater kept by the analyst's couch, at the end, like the infant's headstone that was added near the foot
When I eat crab, slide the rosy rubbery claw across my tongue I think of my mother. She'd drive down to the edge of the Bay, tiny woman in a
A Week Later
A week later, I said to a friend: I don't think I could ever write about it. Maybe in a year I could write something. There is something in me maybe someday
The first ones were attached to my dress at the waist, one on either side, right at the point where hands could clasp you and pick you up, as if you were a hot
Quotationsmore quotations »
... to a poet, the human community is like the community of birds to a bird, singing to each other. Love is one of the reasons we are singing to one another, love of language itself, love of sound, lo...Sharon Olds (b. 1942), U.S. poet. As quoted in Listen to Their Voices, ch. 18 (1993). On why writing poetry, though "always difficult," is easier ...
Sometimes I can almost see, around our heads,
Like gnats around a streetlight in summer,
The children we could have,
The glimmer of them.
Sometimes I feel them waiting, dozing
In some antechamber - servants, half-
Listening for the bell.
Sometimes I see them lying like love letters
In the Dead Letter Office
And sometimes, like tonight, by some black
Second sight I can feel just one of them
Standing on the edge of a cliff by the sea
In the dark, stretching its arms out
Desperately to me.