Sharon Olds’ “The Winter After Your Death”


Sometimes you’re in a mood for mood poetry. Like in the last weeks of summer when days are already growing shorter and your mind begins to wander toward darker memories — not only of winter, but of those who have passed before us.

I found this Sharon Olds poem in Jane Hirshfield’s lovely collection of essays, Nine Gates, and, as someone who who enjoys nature poetry, both as a reader and a poet myself, I thought I’d share it:


The Winter After Your Death by Sharon Olds

The long bands of mellow light
across the snow
narrow slowly.
The sun closes her gold fan
and nothing is left but black and white–
the quick steam of my breath, the dead
accurate shapes of the weeds, still, as if
pressed in an album.
Deep in my body my green heart
turns, and thinks of you. Deep in the
pond, under the thick trap
door of ice, the water moves,
the carp hangs like a sun, its scarlet
heart visible in its side.


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