Monday, July 5, 2010

The Language of the Brag by Sharon Olds

This poem has been floating around in my head all day today, so I guess it wants to be here.  I love this poem and how powerful & proud it makes me feel as a woman.  I found the photo online and it's just perfect for this poem, as most of the photos had men throwing knives at women.  NOT!

Read and enjoy.  Blessings!  ~Marion

By Sharon Olds

I have wanted excellence in the knife-throw,
I have wanted to use my exceptionally strong and accurate arms
and my straight posture and quick electric muscles
to achieve something at the centre of a crowd,
the blade piercing the bark deep,
the haft slowly and heavily vibrating like the cock.

I have wanted some epic use for my excellent body,
some heroism, some American achievement
beyond the ordinary for my extraordinary self,
magnetic and tensile, I have stood by the sandlot
and watched the boys play.

I have wanted courage, I have thought about fire
and the crossing of waterfalls, I have dragged around

my belly big with cowardice and safely,
my stool black with iron pills,
my huge breasts oozing mucus,
my legs swelling, my hands swelling,
my face swelling and darkening, my hair
falling out, my inner sex
stabbed again and again with terrible pain like a knife.
I have lain down.
I have lain down and sweated and shaken
and passed blood and feces and water and
slowly alone in the centre of a circle I have
passed the new person out
and they have lifted the new person free of the act
and wiped the new person free of that
language of blood like praise all over the body.

I have done what you wanted to do, Walt Whitman,
Allen Ginsberg, I have done this thing,

I and the other women this exceptional
act with the exceptional heroic body,
this giving birth, this glistening verb,
and I am putting my proud American boast
right here with the others.

"The Language of the Brag" is from SATAN SAYS by Sharon Olds.
Copyright © 1980


Woman in a Window said...

holy holy hell, sharon olds. holy holy hell.

i want to say more and all i can come up with is holy holy.



Wine and Words said...

Wow this is brilliant. I was so caught up in the beginning with her tight, strong, excellent body, and then to be flung head first into the birth canal with mucus and swelling and blood and feces, it was like a slash of cold water to the face. And so true. An exceptional act. WOW! Loved it.

((hugs)) my dear friend!

Sue said...


Kay said...

I am woman and I can do it better :)

Thanks for sharing!

Kelly said...

What a powerful poem!!

Love the photo you found to go with it!

Terresa said...

I have tried to write about childbirth, my last child being born but 3 years ago. And yet, I don't know how to quite capture it.

Sharon does a fine job in this poem. {love her!!}

We women have exceptional heroic bodies, don't we? :) Thank you for the reminder. I want to shout this from the rooftops!

Boonsong said...

Cutting. Incisive. Thanks for this.

All the best, Boonsong

RNSANE said...

Excellent job - hope the delivery wasn't painful.

ds said...

Wow. Great choice, Marion. I love the intensity, the sheer will that Olds brings to her work, but I can't read her all the time...