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Saturday, November 21, 2020

'This Is A Wonder To Me'

“Many poets write books. They'll tell you: Well, I've got my next book, but there are two poems I need to write, one about x, one about y. This is a wonder to me.” – Sharon Olds

Born in San Francisco on Nov. 19, 1942, Olds has won more than two dozen major writing awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry (for Stags Leap) and the National Book Critics Circle Award (for The Dead and the Living).  A much sought-after speaker and presenter, she teaches creative writing at New York University.  Her most recent book of poetry is 2019’s Arias.  For Saturday’s Poem, here is Olds’,


Ode to Dirt

Dear dirt, I am sorry I slighted you,

I thought that you were only the background

for the leading characters – the plants

and animals and human animals.

It’s as if I had loved only the stars

and not the sky which gave them space

in which to shine.  Subtle, various,

sensitive, you are the skin of our terrain,

you’re our democracy.  When I understood

I had never honored you as a living

equal, I was ashamed of myself,

as if I had not recognized

a character who looked so different from me,

but now I can see us all, made of the

same basic materials –

cousins of that first exploding from nothing –

in our intricate equation together.  O dirt,

help us find ways to serve your life,

you who have brought us forth, and fed us,

and who at the end will take us in

and rotate with us, and wobble, and orbit.



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