“Love Song, with Removed Cyst,” by Sharon Olds

Read by the author.


Then we’re lying on the bed, in our clothes, in the overcast,
after he has had the cyst removed
from his knuckle, now bulbous with lattice bandage.
It was like a wisdom tooth growing up
out of his joint, they cut it out
and cut its long roots out.
He lies on his side, I lie on my back,
he keeps the hand elevated
on my breast.
Between us we have so many doctors now,
maybe a dozen. He’s asked me to tell him,
again, what
a simile is, and
why I never use a metaphor—
because for so long I had thought that they were
crazy. But I am sane as a level,
sane as the level bubble in its greenish
indoor pool. I am sane as a scissors,
sane as a sieve, sane as a scales,
sane as a gyroscope, sane as
an ellipsis, sane as orgasm,
sane as every stage of it:
aura, surge, thrust, first stage
rocket, second stage rocket, third stage
rocket, fourth, rest, begin-again, fifth. He rests, he sleeps,
the window shade beyond him is closed,
its mild right-angle hills and valleys like
ripples in water, little doll-house
syncline anticline syncline. We talk about my
not writing—my voice went woggle
woggle as I said, “I need a friend,
in you, about this,” and he said, “I’ll be
your friend.” Now he dreams. I am sane as a friend,
sane as a dream.

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