Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Poem: "I Could Not Tell" -- by Sharon Olds

I could not tell I had jumped off that bus,
that bus in motion, with my child in my arms,
because I did not know it. I believed my own story:  
I had fallen, or the bus had started up
when I had one foot in the air.

I would not remember the tightening of my jaw,  
the irk that I’d missed my stop, the step out  
into the air, the clear child
gazing about her in the air as I plunged
to one knee on the street, scraped it, twisted it,  
the bus skidding to a stop, the driver
jumping out, my daughter laughing
Do it again.

I have never done it  
again, I have been very careful.
I have kept an eye on that nice young mother
who lightly leapt
off the moving vehicle
onto the stopped street, her life
in her hands, her life’s life in her hands.
*     *    *     *     *

Sharon Olds has published several books of poetry, from her first—Satan Says (1980), in which the above poem appears—to her most recent collection, One Secret Thing (2008). Olds was born in San Francisco and raised in Berkeley. She has won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and she has also been recognized with the National Book Critics Circle Award. She currently teaches at New York University.

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