like sitting on the edge of someone's bed
and I rubbed the smooth, speckled granite.
I took some tears from my jaw and neck
and started to wash a corner of his stone.
Then a black and amber ant
ran out onto the granite, and off it,
and another ant hauled a dead
ant onto the stone, leaving it, and not coming back.
Ants ran down into the grooves of his name
and dates, down into the oval track of the
first name's O, middle name's O,
the short O of his last name,
and down into the hyphen between
his birth and death--little trough of his life.
Soft bugs appeared on my shoes,
like grains of pollen, I let them move on me,
I rinsed a dark fleck of mica,
and down inside the engraved letters
the first dots of lichen were appearing
like stars in early evening.
I saw the speedwell on the ground with its horns,
the coiled ferns, copper-beech blossoms, each
petal like that disc of matter which
swayed, on the last day, on his tongue.
Tamarack, Western hemlock,
manzanita, water birch
with its scored bark,
I put my arms around a trunk and squeezed it,
then I lay down on my father's grave.
The sun shone down on me, the powerful
ants walked on me. When I woke,
my cheek was crumbly, yellowish
with a mustard plaster of earth. Only
at the last minute did I think of his body
actually under me, the can of
bone, ash, soft as a goosedown
pillow that bursts in bed with the lovers.
When I kissed his stone it was not enough,
when I licked it my tongue went dry a moment, I
ate his dust, I tasted my dirt host.
Olds is visiting her father's grave, and it has been a year since he died. The poem is very sad. Regardless of how much time has passed, Olds is still much effected by her own father's death. She has other poems that seem to speak about her father in a negative light, but he was still her father. The Olds uses vivid details which creates a scene of what is talking place. A woman coming to visit a someone, but their marker hasn't exactly been taken care of. There is dust and bugs on it. Weeds have started to around it. Olds ends until sleeping through the night on her father's grave. It is the closest she will every be to her father for a while. While she seems to have accepted for the most part that her father is gone, there is still that tug of denial there. Since he is physical there, maybe Olds doesn't feel as if he is completely gone. The death of a parent seems like one of the hardest things to deal with. This poem makes we highly upset, because I know that in the future it will be visiting my parents' graves. While it is a sad ,it is the harsh truth. It makes me think about the fact that while it seems long, the time on earth we have is short. In a previous poem, Olds' father had been dying of an illness and now a year has passed since he has been gone. Those to poems shows that time can't heal all wounds and that life can quickly be taken away.