A new collection by the much praised poet whose second book THE DEAD AND THE LIVING, was both the Lamont Poetry Selection for 1983 and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Beneath the surface of life Olds discovers ``what all of us want never to know''her own sexuality. Her obsessive descriptions of sex are too candid to be erotic: ``the condom/ripped and the seed tore into me like a/ flame.'' With evocative imagery (``We think about bones twisted like white/ saplings''), Olds searches through ``all the eloquence of the body'' for the means to assess her roles as daughter, lover, wife, mother, and woman. Despite a too-easy solipsism (``I looked at you and I tell you I knew you were God/ and I was God''), the best poetry occurs when Olds presents moments of awakening as though they had just happenedher baby's arms ``bent like a crab's rosy legs, the/ thighs closely-packed plums in heavy syrup.'' For poet and reader such moments are purifying. Frank Allen, Associate Dean, Continuing Education, Allentown Coll., Center Valley, Pa.