• Galway Aria

    Sharon Olds

    Fall 2018

    At the end of the day, at the end of the evening,
    in full night, I finally turn out
    the light and go to one of your dormer
    windows—the eaves pulled down, over
    my shoulders, as if I am out over
    the hollyhocks and the barrel of nasturtiums, the
    flowers with their divinity in their
    throats to be sucked out, the deep
    panes set into the roof, the house set
    halfway up the hill on top of the
    mountain over the valley. We are most of the
    way up to the zenith, the clouds
    stretching out, level with us,
    rumpled, bunched, ruched, as if we are
    upside down, as if the sky
    is the element we are floating on, like
    liquid, as if we’re at the bottom of the earth,
    resting on the ocean of the air and its wrack of
    glisteny seaweed and kelp. The summer
    screen mesh
    makes the sexagonal
    hivation of the atmosphere visible,
    the honeycombage of the lower heavens,
    the trees are black, the grass is grey, like a
    painting of an alpen mountainside
    in moonlight. By day in the house now, laughter,
    and the dogs’ laughs and harks; by night,
    the skies flow
    over the slopes,
    fireflies flash with frugal economy
    here and there on the ground—and tiny
    silver pieces of the storm are caught in the
    woven metal which billows like tethered
    cloth. Hello, dear Galway. Off and
    on, all day, dark purple
    and deluge, so I’ve not yet waded up the last
    slant of the Northeast Kingdom—before it
    falls off into the Van Allen and Orion
    belts—to stand, my bones assembled
    roughly upright in their constellation
    above yours
    now edged a little
    here and there—inched—by the creatures
    with whom you share the dirt and share
    your tissue, drifting through their noisome jaws
    in lacy jags. I am honored to be here,
    almost at home in your blood’s and heart’s
    tribe, though having little right,
    neither daughter nor lover, and yet sub
    being of the same sub
    species, the eaters of our words, and of
    each others’, and singers of them, we cannot
    keep a line
    down for long, but must
    throw it up, out of us,
    for song, and in the middle of the night, as I
    sleep with my mouth open, your music
    leaks out onto the pillowcase,
    seeping sweets like a hive, O you great
    bee on the mountain, I sing you and I celebrate you.

    Sharon Olds has published thirteen volumes of poetry, which have won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, among other honors. She teaches at NYU.

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