In my sleep, I dreamed that I came to your grave—
and what lay between us? The beautiful uncut
hair of the grass, and topsoil like the rich
dirt in which you buried our sheets
after I left you—our DNA—near where
you later buried your golden dog.
Also between us the new ceiling
of plain pine, and the linen garment
your fresh-washed unbreathing body had been clothed in,
and the earthen chamber music of wild,
underworld, spiral creatures,
and your tissue I have loved, and within it the ancient
primordial man of your skeleton.
Narwhal tusk, elephant ivory,
icon of your narrow-hipped male power
I rode, rowing in eden. But
it was no dream, I lay broad waking,
and you have not died yet. I can read this to you
in a week, in front of the woodstove,
the flames curving up to points and disappearing,
or beside the pond, the water rippling,
ovals of hemlock and beech changing places in it.
Sometimes you fall asleep as I’m talking to you.
And you’ve said: I want you to be reading me a poem when I die.
And, Let’s not stop writing to each other when I’m dead.
And when I’m dead too! I said. When we met,
though we fell in love immediate and permanent,
we could not make a two-soul union,
nor when I left—each of us had to
work, on ourselves, for years, to get there.
And now we are there! Maybe this has been
death all along! Maybe life is a
kind of dying. Maybe this has been heaven.
Copyright © 2022 by Sharon Olds, Balladz, Alfred A. Knopf