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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, April 20, 2018.
About this Poem 

“The thirsting described in this poem comes from the experience of aging. With age comes physical depletion but also, at times, mental and spiritual depletion. When we were young we thought we could change the world; we were self-confident to the point of arrogance. And now, even if we know that self-confidence was illusory, we still yearn for it—and the world still needs changing.”
—Alicia Ostriker

Thirsting

It’s not that the old are wise
But that we thirst for the wisdom

we had at twenty
when we understood everything

when our brains bubbled
with tingling insights

percolating up from
our brilliant genitals

when our music rang like a global siege
shooting down all the lies in the world

oh then we knew the truth
then we sparkled like mica in granite

and now we stand on the shore
of an ocean that rises and rises
but is too salt to drink

Copyright © 2018 by Alicia Ostriker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 20, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Alicia Ostriker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 20, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Alicia Ostriker

Alicia Ostriker

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1937, Alicia Ostriker has been a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. She currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem

As the body of the beloved is a window
through which we behold the blackness and vastness of space
pulsing with stars, and as the man

on the corner with his fruit stand is a window,
and the cherries, blackberries, raspberries
avocados and carrots are a rose window

like the one in

poem
I am not lyric any more
I will not play the harp
for your pleasure

I will not make a joyful
noise to you, neither
will I lament

for I know you drink 
lamentation, too,
like wine

so I dully repeat
you hurt me
I hate you

I pull my eyes away from the hills
I will not kill for you
I will never love you again
poem

My neighbor’s daughter has created a city
you cannot see
on an island to which you cannot swim
ruled by a noble princess and her athletic consort
all the buildings are glass so that lies are impossible
beneath the city they have buried certain words
which can never be spoken again

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