I Go Back to May 1937 – Sharon Olds

Sharon Olds is a very big name, poetry-wise. I’ve read quite a bit of her work, and the earlier stuff works better for me than the later. This is pretty much perfect, as I see it.

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.

28 Replies to “I Go Back to May 1937 – Sharon Olds”

  1. Yay!
    By the way, and you may have answered this already, but out of curiousity-what does an ARC look like?

  2. ARC looks like a huge, oversized paperback, with the dust jacket art printed directly on the cover.

  3. I love reading the outlander series.I lost myself in the series. Especially as we went into our very hot summer.my neighbour loved them and my mum is currently reading them.Living in Australia we dont seem to get the books straight away.Can’t waight till your next book is out.

  4. Is something supposed to happen after I vote? The box says “Adding your vote” but then nothing else happens. With other polls I’ve seen, they’ll give the current results after you vote…just want to make sure it’s working properly.

  5. Can’t wait for the next book. When is QOS due out? I have enjoyed your series immensely!

  6. Sara,
    Random question, but did you delete yourself from LibraryThing? The reference above reminded me to catalog a few new books (including TTTT) and when I cross-referenced you, you seem to be gone. The link says “saralaughs has been deleted or never existed” – a metaphysical quandary indeed!

  7. Ok- I like the send chocolate bribes, but I’m not voting that way cause I’m affraid I’ll loose. But it’s funny anyway!

  8. Speakin of chocalate,(sorry,I spell it like I say it,kinda in zee fronsh wee,coz I feelz like zat peppy la pew character on loony toons when I speak of somzing so close to my thump,thump)truffles are my all time fave chocalate.
    …sorta got off-track there…s’cuse.

  9. I can’t wait for QOS! Fire left so much to wait for. I push Wilderness on whoever I can find that reads and they always ask for the other three. Thanks so much!

  10. Forgot to add that everyone who reads the first one ends up having to own it themselves! Luv Amazon!

  11. Yippee, I can’t wait for the next book in the series, have had to rush off to the book store every time a new one is released, unfortunatley to really enjoy I have to re-read the others each time so I remember all the little details. Please don’t ever stop adding to this series; I would be devistated.

  12. Will the book be released down here in New Zealand at the same time as the rest of the world??

  13. I’m glad you love librarians, because I am a high school Media Specialist. When I got my degree it was called librarian. I love your wilderness series and am behind. I have only read the first 3. I am also behind in Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I haven’t read the last one. Thanks for writing. Barb

  14. I love the Wilderness series. A friend introduced it to me this summer- and now I can’t wait for the fourth book.

  15. Just wanted to chime in and say I am also eagerly awaiting Queen of Swords! I just reread the whole series again in preparation-I guess I finished a little early…

  16. I’m going to re-read the series again myself! I can’t wait until October!! October is the month of my anniversary! What a great anniversary gift!!

  17. YES! Cannot wait for the next question. Give us more time to answer the question, then post the answers. Otherwise, you did just fine with the first question. We learned a great deal from the first time.

  18. I love, love, love Sharon Olds. I can’t put my hands right on it, but she wrote a poem about her daughter the maths fiend at the swimming pool. Just beautiful.

  19. That’s the poem Anne Lamott includes in her “Last Class” chapter of Bird by Bird. It’s fabulous. :)

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