Thursday, January 3, 2008

Julia taught me a new phrase today or How come Sharon Olds says things so much more better than I?

by Judith Shapiro

Julia leaves for California on her first cross-country road trip next week. She'll be driving her 2007 Honda Hybrid that we'll have serviced on Monday before she goes.

I'm reminded of the trip I took with my boyfriend when I was 19. We bought an old van from a construction guy (He'd be called a construction Dude these days.) for $400 (a lot of money, really). My brother, Jeff, and his best friend Bobby, built a platform for our king-size mattress. I pretended to know how to sew and fashioned some Indian-print material into quasi-curtains. The retread tires spent much of the trip just itching to explode (and succeeding from time to time, not always in the most hospitable of places) and eventually the only way to start the engine was to open the cover and manually connect some wire to the solenoid. It was a great trip.

So Julia and Kristara and I are sitting in Subway today (They're part of the Subway generation thanks to Jared and some highly successful marketing programs.) eating veggie patties on toasted whole wheat with all the fixin's talking about Kristara's headache from drinking strawberry vodka (strawberry vodka?) last night. She's decided she must be allergic to vodka - a low blow for someone who only recently turned 21. Julia suggests that she take what's left of the bottle on her upcoming trip to California. Being only 19, how else would she be able to acquire alcohol along the way? she asks. "Can you see me shoulder tapping in some strange town in Texas, yo?"

Shoulder tapping? Too good.


by Sharon Olds

Brushing out our daughter’s brown
silken hair before the mirror
I see the grey gleaming on my head,
the silver-haired servant behind her. Why is it
just as we begin to go
they begin to arrive, the fold in my neck
clarifying as the fine bones of her
hips sharpen? As my skin shows
its dry pitting, she opens like a moist
precise flower on the tip of a cactus;
as my last chances to bear a child
are falling through my body, the duds among them,
her full purse of eggs, round and
firm as hard-boiled yolks, is about
to snap its clasp. I brush her tangled
fragrant hair at bedtime. It’s an old
story—the oldest we have on our planet—
the story of replacement.

Sharon Olds, “35/10” from Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980-2002. Copyright © 2004 by Sharon Olds.

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