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OLDS, Sharon


Sex Without Love


How do they do it, the ones who make love

without love? Beautiful as dancers,

gliding over each other like ice-skaters

over the ice, fingers hooked

inside each other's bodies, faces

red as steak, wine, wet as the

children at birth whose mothers are going to

give them away. How do they come to the

come to the come to the God come to the

still waters, and not love

the one who came there with them, light

rising slowly as steam off their joined

skin? These are the true religious,

the purists, the pros, the ones who will not

accept a false Messiah, love the

priest instead of the God. They do not

mistake the lover for their own pleasure,

they are like great runners: they know they are alone

with the road surface, the cold, the wind,

the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-

vascular health--just factors, like the partner

in the bed, and not the truth, which is the

single body alone in the universe

against its own best time.


The Death of Marilyn Monroe


The ambulance men touched her cold

body, lifted it, heavy as iron,

onto the stretcher, tried to close the

mouth, closed the eyes, tied the

arms to the sides, moved a caught

strand of hair, as if it mattered,

saw the shape of her breasts, flattened by

gravity, under the sheet

carried her, as if it were she,

down the steps.

These men were never the same. They went out

afterwards, as they always did,

for a drink or two, but they could not meet

each other's eyes.


Their lives took

a turn - one had nightmares, strange

pains, impotence, depression. One did not

like his work, his wife looked

different, his kids. Even death

seemed different to him - a place where she

would be waiting,

and one found himself standing at night

in the doorway to a room of sleep, listening to a

woman breathing, just an ordinary

woman

breathing.