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483: Known to be Left

"Known to be Left"
Sharon Olds

If I pass a mirror, I turn away,
I do not want to look at her,
and she does not want to be seen. Sometimes
I don’t see how I’m going to go on doing this.
Often, when I feel that way,
within a few minutes I am crying, remembering
his body, or an area of it,
his backside often, a part of him
perfect to think of, luscious, not too
detailed, and his back turned to me.
After tears, the heart is less sore,
as if some goddess of humanness
within us has caressed us with a gush of tenderness.
I guess that’s how people go on, without
knowing how. I am so ashamed
before my friends–to be known to be left
by the one who supposedly knew me best,
each hour is a room of shame, and I am
swimming, swimming, holding my head up,
smiling, joking, ashamed, ashamed,
like being naked with the clothed, or being
a child, having to try to behave
while hating the terms of your life. In me now
there’s a being of sheer hate, like an angel
of hate. On the badminton lawn, she got
her one shot, pure as an arrow,
while through the eyelets of my blouse the no-see-ums
bit the flesh that no one else
cares to touch. In the mirror, the torso
looks like a pin-up hives martyr
or a cream pitcher speckled with henbit, pussy paws,
full of the milk of human kindness
and unkindness, and no one cares to drink.
But look! I am starting to give him up!
I believe he is not coming back. Something
has died, inside me, believing that,
like the death of a crone in one twin bed
as a child is born in the other. Have faith,
old heart. What is living, anyway,
but dying.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
zigsternenstaub
Apr. 26th, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC)
Such a devestating last line, and so very devestatingly true.
secretsolitaire
Apr. 26th, 2009 10:54 pm (UTC)
There's something so human and relatable about this poem. Not sure if that makes sense, but yeah. I feel like I've been there.
kindmachine
Apr. 27th, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC)
I want to dislike this poem; there's something about the style, or the words, that feels almost irritating. Maybe too precious, over-dramatic.

But, it twists and it tugs at me, anyway.

by the one who supposedly knew me best, my goodness.
shadowlynn
Apr. 28th, 2009 03:50 am (UTC)
so cruel that i should see this today and so fitting
killahdillah
Apr. 28th, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
I am so ashamed before my friends–to be known to be left, by the one who supposedly knew me best

Ouch. So True. And the mirror image, if I think about it, it's exactly what I've been doing since he left. I wish it didn't feel so shameful to be left.
whatisis
Apr. 30th, 2009 09:56 am (UTC)
this is
great.
mexcine
May. 20th, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC)
A friend of mine recommended this LJ page to me. I am SO glad, since it allows me to sample poems such as this. The feeling of absence and self-recrimination of a lost love is well delineated here.
orbitaldiamonds
Sep. 29th, 2009 12:02 pm (UTC)
When I was little I thought they were called "twin beds" because you bought them two at a time, because my brother and I had them in the room we shared when we went to our dad's apartment every other weekend.

Anyhow, that is a beautiful poem, and it reminds me of how I felt when my ex left me.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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