I Could Not Tell by Sharon Olds

I Could Not Tell

I could not tell I had jumped off that bus,
that bus in motion, with my child in my arms,
because I did not know it. I believed my own story:
I had fallen, or the bus had started up
when I had one foot in the air.

I would not remember the tightening of my jaw,
the irk that I’d missed my stop, the step out
into the air, the clear child
gazing about her in the air as I plunged
to one knee on the street, scraped it, twisted it,
the bus skidding to a stop, the driver
jumping out, my daughter laughing
Do it again.

I have never done it
again, I have been very careful.
I have kept an eye on that nice young mother
who lightly leapt
off the moving vehicle
onto the stopped street, her life
in her hands, her life’s life in her hands.

from Satan Says.

2 responses to “I Could Not Tell by Sharon Olds”

  1. Hello Renee Emerson, a good friend posted one of your poems yesterday on facebook, telling me that he thought I would like it a great deal, (which I did) especially since you are from Georgia, as am I. My friend’s name is Richard Krawiec, prolific poet, novelist, feisty activist, editor, and publisher who lives in Raleigh, though he’s a native Yankee. He published my chapbook Southern Fictions three years back, a sonnet sequence about racial division in SW Georgia which later became part of my 6th book, Descent, from LSU Press. Anyway, I don’t know if you know Richard at all. Of course he’s on facebook. As am I, though I don’t know for how much longer.
    I’m glad your experience with Sharon Olds was a good one. She has not been one of the poets whose work has engaged me over the years, but that could change as I age even more than I already have! I hope to read more of your work in the future. And I hope you like being at Shorter. That’s one of the schools I considered before I decided on Wesleyan College, because it was closer to home.
    All best, Kathryn


    1. Hi Kathryn, Wow, thank you for the comment! I’ve read and loved “Descent” (LSU press has such good taste). I’m so glad to “meet” you on the blog–and that you enjoyed one of my poems =)



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