Poem of the Week: 49 1/2 by Sharon Olds

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49 1/2

The first long month, waiting and waiting,
I fear I am pregnant. The second long month,
a clot appears, ruby-crowned
kinglet’s nest. Well – that’s it,
I hear myself saying, in passionless wonder.
For a moment, I picture a changing room
at an outdoor pool — cinder-block wall
and the smell of chlorine — and no one’s there,
nothing’s there, not a bathing cap
or a bobby pin. It is all over.
It is so quiet. There is a slight shining
like the slight shining of truth. I will die.
I am part of a long succession. I had not
longed for a baby for years, but had assumed
I might have one any time. Now I am safe,
and taste the mercy in lack. And I’m in shock,
the concrete emptiness of the damp
room. No more eggs. How can I be
myself, without any eggs? And yet
there is someone here – all along
there was a spirit here. O I am passing beyond matter
and I am still in matter! It has been so long
since I have been a being like this.
When I was in the womb, thirty
years of half-lives beaded their dew
on my inner wall. Now I have spent them,
and yet I breathe, and caper, as if
not made to be a servant only;
now the leash of use is loosened
and I will be that scrawny, avid,
slightly bearded creature, the one
past bearing, the human gone out upon its longest thread.

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Categories: Poems

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