We’re celebrating poetry the only way we know how: One Poem At a Time -1-

Mr. Schenker, my 10th grade English teacher at Hamilton High in Culver City, showed our class a video of a poetry reading at some workshop in upstate New York. A woman with long, silver hair with a white streak running down it read this poem. When I got home from school I went to the Studio City Library (longggg before it was remodeled to look like a swimming pool) and headed for the tiny, but miraculous poetry section, where I found, by aforementioned miracle, a slim, red volume called The Gold Cell, by Sharon Olds, the poet with the long silver hair. It’s not my favorite poem by Sharon Olds, and not her best — so many others! — but it’s not exaggerating to say it changed my life. (Or my reading life, in any case, which is pretty much my life.) The Gold Cell was the first book in my poetry collection, which now teeters close to 500 volumes, “Topography” the first poem I remember falling in love with on my own, followed by countless others sparked by that newly developed hunger. Thanks, Mr. S.


by Sharon Olds
from The Gold Cell

After we flew across the country we
got in bed, laid our bodies
delicately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco against your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly from the left my
moon rising slowly from the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

More about Sharon Olds here.


Filed under Poetry Month 2010

2 responses to “We’re celebrating poetry the only way we know how: One Poem At a Time -1-

  1. Julie von Zerneck

    I just found Sharon Olds a year ago. Thank you for reminding me about her. I will come into the store so I can get one of her volumes to keep by the side of my bed. She makes me very thoughtful.

  2. Terry

    How lovely to know you acknowledge your teacher, I hope somehow he gets to this website. Poetry can make such a difference in a young person’s life.
    You are lucky that it made a difference in yours.

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