The Promise by Sharon Olds


The Promise



With the second drink, at the restaurant,

holding hands on the bare table,

we are at it again, renewing our promise

to kill each other. You are drinking gin,

night-blue juniper berry

dissolving in your body, I am drinking Fumé,

chewing its fragrant dirt and smoke, we are

taking on earth, we are part soil already,

and wherever we are, we are also in our

bed, fitted, naked, closely

along each other, half passed out,

after love, drifting back

and forth across the border of consciousness,

our bodies buoyant, clasped. Your hand

tightens on the table. You’re a little afraid

I’ll chicken out. What you do not want

is to lie in a hospital bed for a year

after a stroke, without being able

to think or die, you do not want

to be tied to a chair like your prim grandmother,

cursing. The room is dim around us,

ivory globes, pink curtains

bound at the waist—and outside,

a weightless, luminous, lifted-up

summer twilight. I tell you you do not

know me if you think I will not

kill you. Think how we have floated together

eye to eye, nipple to nipple,

sex to sex, the halves of a creature

drifting up to the lip of matter

and over it—you know me from the bright,

flecked delivery room, if a lion

had you in its jaws I would attack it, if the ropes

binding your soul are your own wrists, I will cut them.


1 thought on “The Promise by Sharon Olds

  1. Pingback: 6 poems (loosely) for Valentine’s Day – Acrostic Books

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