Monday, February 10, 2014

The Race

The Race


When I got to the airport I rushed up to the desk,
bought a ticket, ten minutes later
they told me the flight was cancelled, the doctors
had said my father would not live through the night
and the flight was cancelled. A young man
with a dark brown moustache told me
another airline had a nonstop
leaving in seven minutes. See that
elevator over there, well go
down to the first floor, make a right, you'll
see a yellow bus, get off at the
second Pan Am terminal, I
ran, I who have no sense of direction
raced exactly where he'd told me, a fish
slipping upstream deftly against
the flow of the river. I jumped off that bus with those
bags I had thrown everything into
in five minutes, and ran, the bags
wagged me from side to side as if
to prove I was under the claims of the material,
I ran up to a man with a flower on his breast,
I who always go to the end of the line, I said
Help me. He looked at my ticket, he said
Make a left and then a right, go up the moving stairs and then
run. I lumbered up the moving stairs,
at the top I saw the corridor,
and then I took a deep breath, I said
goodbye to my body, goodbye to comfort,
I used my legs and heart as if I would
gladly use them up for this,
to touch him again in this life. I ran, and the
bags banged against me, wheeled and coursed
in skewed orbits, I have seen pictures of
women running, their belongings tied
in scarves grasped in their fists, I blessed my
long legs he gave me, my strong
heart I abandoned to its own purpose,
I ran to Gate 17 and they were
just lifting the thick white
lozenge of the door to fit it into
the socket of the plane. Like the one who is not
too rich, I turned sideways and
slipped through the needle's eye, and then
I walked down the aisle toward my father. The jet
was full, and people's hair was shining, they were
smiling, the interior of the plane was filled with a
mist of gold endorphin light,
I wept as people weep when they enter heaven,
in massive relief. We lifted up
gently from one tip of the continent
and did not stop until we set down lightly on the
other edge, I walked into his room
and watched his chest rise slowly
and sink again, all night
I watched him breathe.
                          Sharon Olds

Commentary 
This is a very intense poem. It is a free verse and tells the story as Olds races against time to get to her father. Her father is very sick, and odds seem to be against Olds until the very end when she just barely made it. The poem really allows for someone to picture the emotions she was feeling and gives a first person account. This poem causes some serious emotions. It is hard trying to rush to get to one of your sick parents knowing that they might not live through the night. It is basically the final goodbye. I love the imagery that she uses in the poem. It shows that this is something real, that she actually went through this and not some figment of her imagination. Olds' poems tend to be accounts of events that actually happened, but this one seems to be one of the best ones. I think it is more so of the fact that it is talking about a loved one dying and that is something that either people have dealt with or something that they may deal with in the future. Is is easy to picture yourself in her position, running against the clock to a parent you may never hear from again. It may be to soon to assume that he died because the poem doesn't give a clear ending, but you can kind of picture that he was on his death bed. She was rushing like it was the end. She wouldn't be rushing if he could be cured by the doctor. It is that intensity that can keep one on the edge of their seat. As you read it, you just want her to make it, and it brings a sense of relief that she does because it is her last night. Can you image going through that? The person who raised who raised you is dying and you might not even make it to see them for the last time? It is a very intense feeling. 




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