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11.19: Sharon (a little bit) Old(er)s

Today is the birthday of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry, Sharon Olds. She won the Pulitzer for Stag’s Leap, a volume of poems about the dissolution of her 30-year marriage. Here’s a selection from Stag’s Leap.

My Son’s Father’s Smile

In my sleep, our son, as a child, said, 
of his father, he smiled me—as if into 
existence, into the family built around the 
young lives which had come from the charged 
bouquets, the dense oasis. That smile, 
those years, well what can a body say, I have 
been in the absolute present of a fragrant 
ignorance. And to live in those rooms, 
where one of his smiles might emerge, like something 
almost from another place, 
another time, another set 
of creatures, was to feel blessed, and to be 
held in mysteriousness, and a little 
in mourning. The thinness of his lips gave it 
a simplicity, like a child’s drawing 
of a smile—a footbridge, turned over on its back, or seen 
under itself, in water—and the archer’s 
bow gave it a curved unerring 
symmetry, a shot to the heart. I look back on that un- 
clouded face yet built of cloud, 
and that waning crescent moon, that look 
of deep, almost sad, contentment, and know myself 
lucky, that I had out the whole 
night of a half-life in that archaic 
hammock, in a sky whose darkness is fading, that 
first dream, from which I am now waking.

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