The Feat by Sharon Olds


April 4 of 1978 was unseasonably warm. At 82 degrees, it set Lincoln’s record high temperature for that date. In stark contrast, June 8 set a daily record low of 47 degrees. The Spring 1978 issue of Prairie Schooner featured a poem by a then-unknown writer by the name of Sharon Olds. Olds’ first collection of poetry wouldn’t even be published until two years later—proof that no matter how unstable the weather, Prairie Schooner’s pioneering spirit is a certainty.

The Feat
Sharon Olds

I see your son at school since your death.
He is so vivid, he is burning with life for you.
His jokes in the elevator have lost
their mean edge. His face looks caught
in the blaze of headlights.
He is swimming on into the glare; with his head up
he is taking on a whole life without you.

Into his sleep you dive from the high board,
the white bandage from your head uncurling slowly in the air
like a bon-voyage streamer.
The distance between you looks steep
as the side of an ocean liner.

Death pulls out from the dock. The gap spreads
rapidly as black scorch.
From the high metal side you dive neatly
right into his heart.