November 2009

Sharon Dolin


Sharon Dolin won AWP's 2007 Donald Hall Prize in Poetry for her fourth poetry collection, Burn and Dodge, (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008). The author of three previous books of poems: Realm of the Possible (Four Way Books, 2004), Serious Pink (Marsh Hawk, 2003), and Heart Work (Sheep Meadow, 1995), she teaches at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y and is Writer-in-Residence at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts.

Sunglasses in the Subway    

                        I knew, was a very bad sign.
                We'd just come from the marriage
        counselor and what had he said?
What ice stormed my heart?
                        His declaring he'd lost all empathy
                for me—his wife—this doctor
        of empathy?
Or was it the argument over reading—
                        how I wanted him
                to read with me in bed and
        his refusal? So that now
on the subway, he announced,
                        he would read. How is it
                possible to use reading
        as a weapon, a wounding shield?
The shutters slammed down
                        and there wasn't a peep-
                hole of light      I sat
        next to a Buddha of stone
and wept into the punishing fluorescence. Put
                        my dark glasses on to guard
                me from the blinding shame and
        the gaze of others.
But it failed me then
                        as our son's exuberant young
                teacher—oblivious to pain—sitting
        across the aisle with her husband
called out my name.
                        I had to come up from hell
                and say hello (couldn't she tell?).
        How was it possible? Not the reading, per se,
but the armoring as aggression.
                        As in the Mission chair
                in his study into which he would retreat
        each evening—the book
or newspaper more pressing than
                        his son or wife. The shutters
                of his eyes slanted down onto
        the lines of any novel. Once, when
I'd confronted him about lunch
                        with his lover he swore
                was a friend, refusing
        to cancel and have lunch with me,
that evening he scolded me
                        (why are the worst things
                always true?)
        for having moved a single book in the living room
and I raged at him in front
                        of our stunned son.
                And what did he do?
        He picked up the newspaper
and read as though untouched by
                        the whirlwind.
                As though I had become Job
        and he already my dead



Sharon Dolin: Poetry
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