Toth Farry

By Sharon Olds b. 1942 Sharon Olds
In the back of the charm-box, in a sack, the baby   
canines and incisors are mostly chaff,   
by now, split kernels and acicular down, no   
whole utensils left: half   
an adz; half a shovel, in its broken   
handle a marrow well of the will   
to dig and bite. And the enamel hems   
are sharp as shell-tools, and the colors go from   
salt, to bone, to pee on snow, to   
sun on pond-ice embedded with twigs   
and chipped-off skate-blade. One cuspid   
is like the tail of an ivory chough   
on my grandmother's what-not in a gravure on my mother's   
bureau in my father's house in my head,   
I think it's our daughter's, but the dime Hermes   
mingled the deciduals of our girl and boy, safe-   
keeping them together with the note that says   
Dear Toth Farry, Plees Giv Me   
A Bag of Moany. I pore over the shards,   
a skeleton-lover—but who could throw out   
these short pints of osseus breastmilk,   
or the wisdom, with its charnel underside,   
and its dome, smooth and experienced,   
ground in anger, rinsed in silver   
when the mouth waters. From above, its knurls   
are a cusp-ring of mountain tops   
around an amber crevasse, where in high   
summer the summit wildflowers open   
for a day—Crown Buttercup, Alpine Flames,   
Shooting-Star, Rosy Fairy Lantern,   
Cream Sacs, Sugar Scoop.

Source: Poetry (February 2005).


This poem originally appeared in the February 2005 issue of Poetry magazine

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February 2005
 Sharon  Olds


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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Parenthood, Infancy, Relationships, Home Life, Time & Brevity, Youth, Living

Poetic Terms Imagery, Free Verse, Metaphor

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