When I saw it for the first time,
I was baffled that anyone would walk out her door
showing that—the vines, the snakes,
the ripples, the nest of nestlings' necks!
And to think that on an ancestor
of that—if withered cleavage is
a descendant of fresh, young breasts—
I had spent some early hours of my life,
learning to adore the curves of the creamy
moon. My mother's desire to be touched,
late in her life, was so intense I could
almost hear it, like a keening from the hundred little
purselets of each nipple, each like a
rose-red eraser come alive and starvacious.
And now my own declivity is
arroyoing, and if I live long enough
my chest over my breastbone may look like
an internal organ, a heart trailing its
arteries and veins. I want to praise
what goes one way, what never recovers.
I want to live to an age when I look
hardly human, I want to love them
equally, birth and its daughter and
Excerpted from ODES by Sharon Olds. Copyright © 2016 by Sharon Olds. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.