To Our Miscarried One, Age Fifty Now

Sharon Olds

Fall 2018

Every twenty years, I turn
and address you, not knowing who you were
or what you were. You had been three months
in utero, when our friend came to visit
with her virus which I caught and you died—or it may be
your inviableness had been conceived with you—
you might have been, all along, going to
last fourteen weeks, though I had felt,
as we lay on the living-room floor, the couch
pushed in front of the door at the pure gold
hour at the core of your big sister’s
nap, that you had taken deep.
I kept my feet up on the couch an hour—there was a
recipe, for a boy, then:
abstain until the egg emerges, then
send the long-tailed whippersnapper, the
boy-making sperm, in, to get there
before the girls, who are slow but if they
get there early can wait. The boy
we conceived a month after you died
made, years later,
an ink X
on a cushion of that sofa, as if to declare
war on sisters and mothers, the oppressors
of the male. Hello, male, or female,
or both, or neither. Hi mystery,
hi matter, hi spirit moving through matter.
Twenty years ago, when your father
left me, I wanted to hold hands with you,
my friend in death, the dead one
I knew best—and not at all—
who had deserted this life or been driven from it,
I your garden, oasis, desert.

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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