Suddenly

Sharon Olds

 
(Ruth Stone, June 8, 1915 - November 19, 2011)
And suddenly, it's today, it's this morning
they are putting Ruth into the earth,
her breasts going down, under the hill,
like the moon and sun going down together.
O I know, it's not Ruth—what was Ruth
went out, slowly, but this was her form,
beautiful and powerful
as the old, gorgeous goddesses who were
terrible, too, not telling a lie
for anyone—and she'd been left here so long, among
mortals, by her mate—who could not,
one hour, bear to go on being human.
And I've gone a little crazy myself
with her going, which seems to go against logic,
the way she has always been there, with her wonder, and her
generousness, her breasts like two
voluptuous external hearts.
I am so glad she kept them, all
her life, and she got to be buried in them—
she 96, and they
maybe 82, each, which is
164 years
of pleasure and longing.  And think of all
the poets who have suckled at her riskiness, her
risque, her body politic, her
outlaw grace!  What she came into this world with,
with a mew and cry, she gave us.  In her red
sweater and her red hair and her raw
melodious Virginia crackle,
she emptied herself fully out
into her songs and our song-making,
we would not have made our songs without her.
O dear one, what is this?  You are not a child,
though you dwindled, you have not retraced your path,
but continued to move straight forward to where
we will follow you, radiant mother.  Red Rover, cross over.
 
Copyright 2013 by Sharon Olds. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on November 5, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Poems by This Author

Blowjob (Vulgar Slang) by Sharon Olds
Mairsy and Dosey by Sharon Olds
Take the I Out by Sharon Olds
But I love the I, steel I-beam
The Ferryer by Sharon Olds
Three years after my father's death
Voices by Sharon Olds
Our voices race to the towers, and up beyond


Further Reading

Poems About Friendship
After the Movie
by Marie Howe
Blue Is Beautiful Amy but the Story Is So the '90s
by Farrah Field
Book Loaned to Tom Andrews
by Bobby C. Rogers
Dear Friends
by Edwin Arlington Robinson
For N & K
by Gina Myers
Friend
by Jean Valentine
Friend,
by Jean Valentine
From the Lives of My Friends
by Michael Dickman
Given
by Joanna Klink
Heaven for Helen
by Mark Doty
Heaven for Stanley
by Mark Doty
How I Am
by Jason Shinder
I Love the Hour Just Before
by Todd Boss
Mending Wall
by Robert Frost
On Gifts For Grace
by Bernadette Mayer
On the Road to the Sea
by Charlotte Mew
sisters
by Lucille Clifton
Skunk Hour
by Robert Lowell
Song of Myself, X
by Walt Whitman
Stanzas in Meditation
by Gertrude Stein
The Armadillo
by Elizabeth Bishop
The Soul unto itself (683)
by Emily Dickinson
This Lime Tree Bower My Prison
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
To a Friend who sent me some Roses
by John Keats
To Amy Lowell
by Eunice Tietjens
To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like a Death
by Lloyd Schwartz
To Thomas Moore
by George Gordon Byron
Train-Mates
by Witter Bynner
Travelling
by William Wordsworth
We Have Been Friends Together
by Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton
You & I Belong in This Kitchen
by Juan Felipe Herrera
Your Catfish Friend
by Richard Brautigan
Poems About Funerals
In Memoriam, [To Sleep I give my powers away]
by Lord Alfred Tennyson
A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London
by Dylan Thomas
Age and Death
by Emma Lazarus
Because I could not stop for Death (712)
by Emily Dickinson
Bomb Crater Sky
by Lam Thi My Da
By ways remote and distant waters sped (101)
by Gaius Valerius Catullus
Driven across many nations (101)
by Gaius Valerius Catullus
For the Union Dead
by Robert Lowell
Fugue of Death
by Paul Celan
In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae
Night Funeral in Harlem
by Langston Hughes
O Captain! My Captain!
by Walt Whitman
Question
by May Swenson
Song ["When I am dead, my dearest"]
by Christina Rossetti
The Earth Opens and Welcomes You
by Abdellatif Laâbi
The World as Seen Through a Glass of Ice Water
by Dobby Gibson
Untitled [This is what was bequeathed us]
by Gregory Orr
What Came to Me
by Jane Kenyon