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I Go Back To May 1937
(November 19, 1942 / San Francisco)

I Go Back To May 1937

Poem By Sharon Olds

I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges,
I see my father strolling out
under the ochre sandstone arch, the
red tiles glinting like bent
plates of blood behind his head, I
see my mother with a few light books at her hip
standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks,
the wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its
sword-tips aglow in the May air,
they are about to graduate, they are about to get married,
they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are
innocent, they would never hurt anybody.
I want to go up to them and say Stop,
don’t do it—she’s the wrong woman,
he’s the wrong man, you are going to do things
you cannot imagine you would ever do,
you are going to do bad things to children,
you are going to suffer in ways you have not heard of,
you are going to want to die. I want to go
up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it,
her hungry pretty face turning to me,
her pitiful beautiful untouched body,
his arrogant handsome face turning to me,
his pitiful beautiful untouched body,
but I don’t do it. I want to live. I
take them up like the male and female
paper dolls and bang them together
at the hips, like chips of flint, as if to
strike sparks from them, I say
Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it.

User Rating: 3,4 / 5 ( 27 votes ) 11

Other poems of OLDS (34)

Comments (11)

A very dynamic warning exhibiting the necessity of personal thought before actions are taken, I am also a propagator of self-thinking. Thank you for your wonderful poem, Paul
I take them up like the male and female paper dolls and bang them together at the hips, like chips of flint, as if to strike sparks from them, .... And then you come into the world enchanting everyone with poems of life and love. People bang, sparks fly and they see shining stars in daylight. You did pretty well, Sharon. There were sparks with lightening. Thunderous clouds gathered and rained till the parched, dry earth could drink no more.
I will tell about it! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.
She revives the remembrance of what is now so painful to her but bold enough to face it fearlessly..............candidly expressed...........thanks for sharing
Such an interesting write, Sharon....... a huge 10+++
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