This past week: the friends in a group discussion admitting they can barely ask what the honorarium is because it feels so selfish. The friend who wonders can I back out of this event in NYC because I just noticed there’s no travel reimbursement and I literally can’t afford it but I can’t stand to let anyone down. The friends who say they know it’s their own fault for feeling ashamed of their bodies and why can’t they just ignore all the ads for liposuction, juvaderm, lip filler, neck filler, breast augmentation, tummy tucks, and vaginal rejuvenation.
The first time I read the poem below, many years ago when my children were tiny, my heart pounded and I was glad to be alone. It felt as if anyone who saw my visceral reaction would know something elemental about me, something I couldn’t stand for them to know about the hugeness of my drive and determination, and how shameful that was, how selfish. It is so much harder for some people than others to stand tall, to take up space in this world, to say no, to stop apologizing. Lines from this poem still filter through me like blood.
Station, by Sharon Olds
Coming in off the dock after writing,
I approached the house,
and saw your long grandee face
in the light of a lamp with a parchment shade
the color of flame.
An elegant hand on your beard. Your tapered
eyes found me on the lawn. You looked
as the lord looks down from a narrow window
and you are descended from lords. Calmly, with no
hint of shyness you examined me,
the wife who runs out on the dock to write
as soon as one child is in bed,
leaving the other to you.
mouth, flexible as an archer’s bow,
did not curve. We spent a long moment
in the truth of our situation, the poems
heavy as poached game hanging from my hands.
For more information about Sharon Olds, please click here.
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