Thursday, April 14, 2022

Poetry on Thursday: Sharon Olds

Good morning! In this week's installment of poetry, we are all sharing poems by Sharon Olds. You may remember that I shared one of her poems last year, a poem that has stayed with me since I first read it as a teenager. Today the poem I've chosen to share is one that immediately spoke to me as the parent of an almost-teenager, a time when I'm very much thinking of what I was like at her age and watching her begin the process of finding her own identity separate from that as my daughter.


(for my daughter)

I lie on the beach, watching you
as you lie on the beach, memorizing you
against the time when you will not be with me:
your empurpled lips, swollen in the sun
and smooth as the inner lips of a shell;
your biscuit-gold skin, glazed and
faintly pitted, like the surface of a biscuit;
the serious knotted twine of your hair.
I have love you instead of anyone else,
loved you as a way of loving no one else,
every separate grain of your body
building the god, as you were build within me,
a sealed world. What if from you lips
I had learned the love of other lips,
from your starred, gummed lashes the love of
other lashes, from you shut, quivering
eyes the love of other eyes,
from your body the bodies,
from you life the lives?
Today I see it is there to be learned from you:
to love what I do not own.

From Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002, Alfred A. Knopf, 2019


Be sure to visit Bonny, Kat, and Kym today for other Sharon Olds selections!


  1. This is a wonderful poem, rich in words and description that Sharon Olds does so well. I can clearly imagine her daughter on the beach, and I especially like the last two lines. (I have to remind myself of that often.) Thanks for sharing!

  2. This one is new to me, Sarah--thank you for posting it. I was just talking with a friend last night, someone trying desperately to conceive a child, newly married for the first time at 40--and we were talking about the message in the last two lines of this poem. Such true and astute words that I think really come alive when the teen years come into view. Those words can be liberating, surprising, painful, celebratory--all at once. Ah, poetry!

  3. "To love what I do not own" - what a powerful line! Thanks for sharing this poem Sarah. Perfect for having a daughter on the brink of the teenage years. I hope those years are gentle for both of you.

  4. wow, Sarah - that poem is perfect for the time you're in. and it pairs so beautifully with the one Bonny shared. Thank you!

  5. What a wonderful poem to share, Sarah. Thank you!

  6. This is also one of my favorite Sharon Olds poems, Sarah. I think some of my favorites from her . . . are about the bittersweet and complex feelings of parenthood, especialy as we watch our children grow up. Thanks for sharing it! XO

  7. What a powerful poem. Thank you. Time does flies when you are raising children.

  8. Beautiful poem, Sarah! Thank you so much for sharing it!