Still Life in Landscape

By Sharon Olds b. 1942 Sharon Olds
It was night, it had rained, there were pieces of cars and
half-cars strewn, it was still, and bright,
a woman was lying on the highway, on her back,
with her head curled back and tucked under her shoulders
so the back of her head touched her spine
between her shoulder-blades, her clothes
mostly accidented off, and her
leg gone, a long bone
sticking out of the stub of her thigh—
this was her her abandoned matter,
my mother grabbed my head and turned it and
clamped it into her chest, between
her breasts. My father was driving—not sober
but not in this accident, we’d approached it out of
neutral twilight, broken glass
on wet black macadam, like an underlying
midnight abristle with stars. This was
the world—maybe the only one.
The dead woman was not the person
my father had recently almost run over,
who had suddenly leapt away from our family
car, jerking back from death,
she was not I, she was not my mother,
but maybe she was a model of the mortal,
the elements ranged around her on the tar—
glass, bone, metal, flesh, and the family.

Sharon Olds, “Still Life in Landscape” from Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980-2002. Copyright © 2004 by Sharon Olds. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Source: Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980-2002 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004)

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Poet Sharon Olds b. 1942

Subjects Living, Death, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Sharon  Olds

Biography

Sharon Olds is one of contemporary poetry’s leading voices. Winner of several prestigious awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award, Olds is known for writing intensely personal, emotionally scathing poetry which graphically depicts family life as well as global political events. “Sharon Olds is enormously self-aware,” wrote David Leavitt in the Voice Literary Supplement. “Her poetry is . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Death, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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