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Stag's Leap: Poems


Stag's Leap: Poems Cover




The Last Hour

Suddenly, the last hour

before he took me to the airport, he stood up,

bumping the table, and took a step

toward me, and like a figure in an early

science fiction movie he leaned

forward and down, and opened an arm,

knocking my breast, and he tried to take some

hold of me, I stood and we stumbled,

and then we stood, around our core, his

hoarse cry of awe, at the center,

 at the end, of our life. Quickly, then,

the worst was over, I could comfort him,

holding his heart in place from the back

and smoothing it from the front, his own

life continuing, and what had

bound him, around his heart—and bound him

to me—now lying on and around us,

 sea-water, rust, light, shards,

the little eternal curls of eros

beaten out straight.

Stag’s Leap

Then the drawing on the label of our favorite red wine

looks like my husband, casting himself off a

cliff in his fervor to get free of me.

His fur is rough and cozy, his face

placid, tranced, ruminant,

the bough of each furculum reaches back

to his haunches, each tine of it grows straight up

and branches, like a model of his brain, archaic,

unwieldy. He bears its bony tray

level as he soars from the precipice edge,

dreamy. When anyone escapes, my heart

leaps up. Even when it’s I who am escaped from,

I am half on the side of the leaver. It’s so quiet,

and empty, when he’s left. I feel like a landscape,

a ground without a figure. Sauve

qui peut—let those who can save themselves

save themselves. Once I saw a drypoint of someone

tiny being crucified

on a fallow deer’s antlers. I feel like his victim,

and he seems my victim, I worry that the outstretched

legs on the hart are bent the wrong way as he

throws himself off. Oh my mate. I was vain of his

faithfulness, as if it was

a compliment, rather than a state

of partial sleep. And when I wrote about him, did he

feel he had to walk around

carrying my books on his head like a stack of

posture volumes, or the rack of horns

hung where a hunter washes the venison

down with the sauvignon? Oh leap,

leap! Careful of the rocks! Does the old

vow have to wish him happiness

in his new life, even sexual

joy? I fear so, at first, when I still

can’t tell us apart. Below his shaggy

belly, in the distance, lie the even dots

of a vineyard, its vines not blasted, its roots

clean, its bottles growing at the ends of their

blowpipes as dark, green, wavering groans.

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.

Product Details

Olds, Sharon
Knopf Publishing Group
Single Author / American
Poetry-A to Z
Publication Date:
8.67 x 6.26 x 0.58 in 0.64 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Women
Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Divorce and Separation

Stag's Leap: Poems New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$26.95 In Stock
Product details 112 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307959904 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Known for her unadorned, emotionally direct, sometimes sexually explicit free verse, Olds has amassed a large and loyal following over 30-odd years and 10 books. In her new collection every poem speaks to the collapse of a 30-year marriage, precipitated by the ex-husband's affair. Hence the memorable title: 'The drawing on the label of our favorite red wine/ looks like my husband, casting himself off a/ cliff in his fervor to get free of me.' Olds begins as the marriage is ending: 'I want to ask my/ almost-no-longer husband what it's like to not/ love, but he doesn't not want to talk about it.' Years later, he is a memory: Olds can 'watch my idea of him pull away/ and stay, and pull away,' like a kite. In between there are violently mixed feelings, erotic memories, loneliness, anger, and resolve in a book that takes its arc from the divorce, but its organization from the seasons, moving from winter to spring to 'years later,' and frequently looking back: 'Maybe I'm half over who he/ was, but not who I thought he was, and not/ over the wound, sudden deathblow/ as if out of nowhere.' (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , In this wise and intimate new book, Sharon Olds tells the story of a divorce, embracing strands of love, sex, sorrow, memory, and new freedom.

As she carries us through the seasons when her marriage was ending, Olds opens her heart to the reader, sharing the feeling of invisibility that comes when we are no longer standing in love’s sight; the surprising physical bond that still exists between a couple during parting; the loss of everything from her husband’s smile to the set of his hip; the radical change in her sense of place in the world. Olds is naked before us, curious and brave and even generous toward the man who was her mate for thirty years and who now loves another woman. As she writes in the remarkable “Stag’s Leap,” “When anyone escapes, my heart / leaps up.  Even when it’s I who am escaped from, / I am half on the side of the leaver.” Olds’s propulsive poetic line and the magic of her imagery are as lively as ever, and there is a new range to the music—sometimes headlong, sometimes contemplative and deep. Her unsparing approach to both pain and love makes this one of the finest, most powerful books of poetry she has yet given us.

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