This morning on the Metro, I read the word “adolescence” in my book, and for some reason it reminded of a poem that my class read on one of the first days of AP English my senior year of high school. I love this poem, so I thought I’d share it with you:
The rind lies on the table where Liddy has left it
torn into pieces the size of petals and
curved like petals, rayed out like a
full-blown rose, one touch will make it come apart.
The lining of the rind is wet and chalky as
Devonshire cream, rich as the glaucous
lining of a boiled egg, all that protein
cupped in the rich shell. And the navel,
torn out carefully,
lies there like a fat gold
bouquet, the scar of the stem, picked out
with her nails, and still attached to the white
thorn of the central integument,
lies on the careful heap, a tool laid
down at the end of a ceremony.
All here speaks of ceremony,
the sheen of acrid juice, which is all that is
left of the flesh, the pieces lying in
profound order like natural order,
as if this simply happened, the way her
life at 13 looks like something that’s just
happening, unless you see her
standing over it, delicately clawing it open.
(“Liddy’s Orange” was published in Olds’ 1987 book The Gold Cell, but it seems to have first appeared in an August 1982 issue of The New Yorker.)
A quick search on the Internets for some background on Sharon Olds led me (obviously) to her Wikipedia page, which included this interesting story:
In 2005, First Lady Laura Bush invited Olds to the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Olds responded, declining the invitation in an open letter published in the October 10th, 2005 issue of The Nation. The letter closes,
“So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.”
Get it, girl.
Happy, er, academic Wednesday?
[Posted by Mallory]