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“Late Poem to My Father” by Sharon Olds

May 28th, 2010

by Cari Reisinger

Too good to get lost in the archives…

Sharon Olds

Kathleen first heard Garrison Keillor, the voice of Prairie Home Companion, read this powerful poem on NPR.  We’re working on getting the audio for that so we can share it with you.  In the meantime, catch Kathleen’s reading on the air this weekend when she flashes back to her Pick of the Week from April 2007.  Then, come back here to read it over and over again…

“Late Poem to My Father”
By Sharon Olds

Suddenly I thought of you
as a child in that house, the unlit rooms
and the hot fireplace with the man in front of it,
silent. You moved through the heavy air
in your physical beauty, a boy of seven,
helpless, smart, there were things the man
did near you, and he was your father,
the mold by which you were made. Down in the
cellar, the barrels of sweet apples,
picked at their peak from the tree, rotted and
rotted, and past the cellar door
the creek ran and ran, and something was
not given to you, or something was
taken from you that you were born with, so that
even at 30 and 40 you set the
oily medicine to your lips
every night, the poison to help you
drop down unconscious. I always thought the
point was what you did to us
as a grown man, but then I remembered that
child being formed in front of the fire, the
tiny bones inside his soul
twisted in greenstick fractures, the small
tendons that hold the heart in place
snapped. And what they did to you
you did not do to me. When I love you now,
I like to think I am giving my love
Directly to that boy in the fiery room,
As if it could reach him in time.

POW: The Four Agreements

POW: Jane Goodall

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