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October 25th, 2016 - we have 234 poets, 8,025 poems and 317,154 comments.
Sharon Olds - The Mortal One

Three months after he lies dead, that
long yellow narrow body,
not like Christ but like one of his saints,
the naked ones in the paintings whose bodies are
done in gilt, all knees and raw ribs,
the ones who died of nettles, bile, the
one who died roasted over a slow fire—
three months later I take the pot of
tulip bulbs out of the closet
and set it on the table and take off the foil hood.
The shoots stand up like young green pencils,
and there in the room is the comfortable smell of rot,
the bulb that did not make it, marked with
ridges like an elephant's notched foot,
I walk down the hall as if I were moving through the
long stem of the tulip toward the closed sheath.
In the kitchen I throw a palmful of peppercorns into the
as if I would grow a black tree from the soup,
I throw out the rotten chicken part,
glad again that we burned my father
before one single bloom of mold could
grow up
out of him,
maybe it had begun in his bowels but we burned his
the way you burn the long blue
scarf of the dead, and all their clothing,
cleansing with fire. How fast time goes
now that I'm happy, now that I know how to
think of his dead body every day
without shock, almost without grief,
to take it into each part of the day the
way a loom parts the vertical threads,
half to the left half to the right like the Red Sea and you
throw the shuttle through with the warp-thread
attached to the feet, that small gold figure of my father—
how often I saw him in paintings and did not know him,
the tiny naked dead one in the corner,
the mortal one.

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Added: Feb 20 2003 | Viewed: 4337 times | Comments and analysis of The Mortal One by Sharon Olds Comments (8)

The Mortal One - Comments and Information

Poet: Sharon Olds
Poem: The Mortal One
Poem of the Day: May 8 2016

Comment 8 of 8, added on October 10th, 2016 at 7:47 AM.

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Comment 7 of 8, added on August 3rd, 2016 at 1:12 PM.

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Comment 6 of 8, added on May 16th, 2016 at 11:54 AM.

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