Pasadena Ode

March 28, 2018   •   By Sharon Olds

This piece appears in the LARB Print Quarterly Journal: No. 17,  Comedy

To receive the LARB Quarterly Journal, become a member  or  donate here.




Pasadena Ode

          (for my mother)

When I drove into your home town,

for the first time, a big pine-cone

hurtled down in front of the hood!

I parked and retrieved it, the stomen tip

green and wet.  An hour later,

I realized that you had never once

thrown anything at me.  And, as days

passed, the Ponderosa oval

opened, its bracts stretched apart,

and their pairs of wings on top dried

and lifted.  Thank you for every spoon,

and fork, and knife, and saucer, and cup.

Thank you for keeping the air between us

kempt, empty, aeolian.

Never a stick, or a perfume bottle,

or pinking shears — as if you were saving 

an inheritance of untainted objects

to pass down to me.  You know why I’m still

writing you, don’t you.  I miss you unspeakably,

as I have since nine months after I was born,

when you first threw something at me while keeping

hold of it — then threw it again,

and again and again — when you can throw the same thing

over and over, it’s as if you have

a magic power, an always replenishable

instrument.  Of course if you had let

go of the big beaver-tail hairbrush —

if it had been aimed at my head — I would have

had it!  I’m letting you have it, here,

casting a line out, to catch you, then

coming back, then casting one out,

to bind you to me, flinging this flurry of

make-a-wish milkweed.



Sharon Olds’s most recent books are Stag’s Leap, recipient of the T.S. Eliot Prize (U.K.) and the Pulitzer Prize, and Odes.