I knew little, and what I knew
I did not believe – they had lied to me
so many times, so I just took it as it
came, his naked body on the sheet,
the tiny hairs curling on his legs like
fine, gold shells, his sex
harder and harder under my palm
and yet not hard as a rock his face cocked
back as if in terror, the sweat
jumping out of his pores like sudden
trails from the tiny snails when his knees
locked with little clicks and under my
hand he gathered and shook and the actual
flood like milk came out of his body, I
saw it glow on his belly, all they had
said and more, I rubbed it into my
hands like lotion, I signed on for the duration.
By Sharon Olds
Image taken from www.learningtogive.org
No I am not going to discuss my first sex, although I don’t mind if you do. What I am more interested are these two lines in the poem,
“and yet not hard as a rock his face cocked
back as if in terror, the sweat”
Do we men really look "back as if in terror" when we are reaching orgasm? Gosh, there is really something new for me. I mean I do experienced hardness, thank you very much, but not my face right? This is really interesting. I have yet to see my own “terrify” expression as described in the poem and I am really curious. Luckily there are a few ways of achieving that,
1) Asking my wife to use her hand-phone to take my photo during our lovemaking.
2) Videotaping our lovemaking.
3) Installing mirrors at the ceiling/side walls.
Let me see, the first option is out. My wife has a bad habit of sharing her hand-phone with her friends and occasionally her mum. And I think it will be unfair for her to be distracted during our special moment.
What about the second option? Personally I really don’t mind. In fact I’ve been toying with this idea for quite some time, but unfortunately my wife will have none of it. She is not really into the movie business especially if it is a XXX film and she is the main actress. I totally understand. Any volunteers?
And now for the last option, what do you guys think? Cool eh? Compare to the other 2 options this seems to be a better choice. Of course it will cost us some moneys but what the heck, it is a small price to pay to get to know oneself better. Guess it is time to renovate the house.
Coincidentally First Sex is also featured in The Poet’s Companion. Let’s see what it has to say about this poem.
“This poem works on many levels, and for many reasons: it employs the use of repetition, opposition, the surprising similes of the gold shells and tiny snails, and the devices of rhythm and rhyme. But let’s take a closer look at the language itself. Re-read that third line: “… so I just took it as it / came …” The word “came” used in the context of the line doesn’t refer to sexual climax, but the word is there, to conjure up the idea. And later, “his face cocked / back …” is used to describe the angle of the man’s face. In both cases, words or phrases we attach to a sexual act have been slightly displaced. Also notice how those words are emphasized by being positioned at the beginning or end of the line. When the actual “climax” of the poem occurs in the line “he gathered and shook,” we are pleased and surprised by the similes describing the man’s semen as “like milk,” “like lotion.” On first reading we feel as if we’ve been given a rather graphic description of the sexual act. But have we? Body parts are mentioned: “his legs,” “his sex,” “palm,” “face,” “hand,” and “belly,” even each tiny hair and pore in the skin, and yet there is no feeling of vulgarity about the poem. What we feel is the magic, the wonder and surprise of first sex, the strangeness of its sounds and sights, the sensuality of it. We also sense the joy of it in the humor of the last line which is emphasized by the use of rhyme: lotion / duration. Olds has shown us a way into this material by making use of the old language in a new context.”
(Updated on 14 December 2005)