I Go Back To May 1937

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.

by Sharon Olds

Other poems of OLDS (34)

Comments (7)

Racist poem of invaders portrayed as redeemers.
This poem is to long. I think this is more a story than a poem.
Generally I abhor sending pieces to history and shame for having been written at a time ago when feelings and therefore laws were different than our own. I think it sad that today's children will probably never read the great tales of Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer because the stories of Injun' Joe or ol' Black Jim are seen by some as racist.. Or lose the chance to read Captain's Ahab's adventures with Moby Dick and Queesqueg, his expert spearman. Such treasures these. But Lindsay's piece above is simply boring to me, shocking to the senses, and a loss to my time spent reading it.
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM, poem contains thrills and music within it Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you. Mumbo... Jumbo... will... hoo-doo... you. very interesting write
Excellent rhyme and meter. Unfortunately in today's PC climate it will be misinterpreted by many
See More