Sharon Olds
I Am

loved best.  Words I have never
said.  New sentence, at 80.  Of course

not more than his children, and their children.  That goes

without saying -- but I want to lay down each

element of love's house.  First,

the hole, under --
apple cellar, potato cellar,
cellar to hide in -- and then the foundation,
post and beam, and raise the new
walls of light replacing the walls of
shadow we had held up between us.  Now,
doors of light, windows of light --
not yet the roof, like the earth on top of the
coffin lid, in this world of sweet
dirt, and whatever comes after, if anything
comes after.  I am loved best by the one

I love best -- of course not more than my children

and their children, that goes without saying.  And it's not
like winning anything, it's not better than,
it's not like sex, though something like just after --
holding, being held, it's not
wine, but maybe the gulp that hits
the belly near the heart, with its bright heat.
I desired it, I thirsted for it.
It's opposite to not being loved
best, yet it almost feels ordinary,
like milk for a newborn at the breast, like air
there to be breathed after a full exhale,
like the earth turning east, so there is wind from the west,
like ice remaining ice, like dreaming
rivers sleeping in their beds, as if it were a

destiny, though temporary,
maybe only till death, we don't
know, though it feels

much longer, loving best the one
who loves you best.

Found In Volume 52, No. 06
Read Issue
  • facebook sharon olds e1366182714116
Sharon Olds
About the Author

Sharon Olds is the author of thirteen books of poetry, most recently Balladz (2022), a finalist for the National Book Award, Arias (2019), short-listed for the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize, Odes (2016) and Stag’s Leap (2012), winner of the Pulitzer Prize and England’s T. S. Eliot Prize.