Sharon Olds





In the Cell

Sitting in the car at the end of summer, my 
feet on the dashboard, the children in the back 
laughing, my calf gleaming like a crescent moon, 
I notice the hairs are sparser on my legs, 
thinning out as I approach middle age— 
not like some youth whose vigorous hairs 
pulse out of his skin with power while he is 
taking a man's genitals off as 
slowly as possible, carefully, so as 
not to let him get away, to 
get all he knows out of him first— 
names, locations, human maps of 
human cities, in our common tongue and 
written with our usual alphabet so he can 
rule those maps, change the names of the streets and 
line the people along them to turn the 
small cells of their faces up to him, 
the sun on him like gilding. 
This is what I cannot understand, the 
innocence of his own body, its 
goodness and health, the hairs like sweet 
molasses pouring from the follicles of his forearm and 
cooling in great looping curls 
above the sex of the man he is undoing as 
he himself was made.


spoken = Linsay Rousseau