• 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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