In this series of videograms, poets read and discuss the poems getting them through these strange times—broadcasting straight from their couches to yours. These readings bring intimacy into our spaces of isolation, both through the affinity of poetry and through the warmth of being able to speak to each other across the distances.
by Sharon Olds
Issue no. 108 (Fall 1988)
Finally someone just drops it and breaks it
like a mercy killing, the cow butter dish,
it cracks easily into five pieces,
opening like an earthenware flower on the floor:
a crescent of furrowed terracotta, a
dry cold bisque side, a
rogue shard, the cow herself broken
free, upside-down, hollow-muscular inner curves of her body,
slim elliptical hole of her throat leading
into the darkness inside her head.
Long, drawn-out ending of my motherhood,
these kids I see less and less—
better to smash some china like the end of a
love-affair. I take her in my hand,
convex flanks fitting my palm,
thumb and forefinger holding her neck at the
carotids, kiss her mild
dumb forehead, look into her empty
shape smooth and chambered as a woman’s sex,
the way God might have sat on the bank
first shaping the clay.
Even on the hottest day if you
soaked her in cold water in the morning and
set her on the dish she would keep the butter
cool till night in the dark of her body,
fresh, and soft.
Lynn Melnick is the author of the three poetry collections, most recently Refusenik, forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2021. I’ve Had to Think Up a Way to Survive, a book about Dolly Parton that is also a bit of a memoir, is forthcoming from University of Texas Press in 2022.