The Last Hour Suddenly, the last hour before he took me to the airport, he stood up, bumping the table, and took a step toward me, and like a figure in an early science fiction movie he leaned forward and down, and opened an arm, knocking my breast, and he tried to take some hold of me, I stood and we stumbled, and then we stood, around our core, his hoarse cry of awe, at the center, at the end, of our life. Quickly, then, the worst was over, I could comfort him, holding his heart in place from the back and smoothing it from the front, his own life continuing, and what had bound him, around his heart--and bound him to me--now lying on and around us, sea-water, rust, light, shards, the little eternal curls of eros beaten out straight. Stag's Leap Then the drawing on the label of our favorite red wine looks like my husband, casting himself off a cliff in his fervor to get free of me. His fur is rough and cozy, his face placid, tranced, ruminant, the bough of each furculum reaches back to his haunches, each tine of it grows straight up and branches, like a model of his brain, archaic, unwieldy. He bears its bony tray level as he soars from the precipice edge, dreamy. When anyone escapes, my heart leaps up. Even when it's I who am escaped from, I am half on the side of the leaver. It's so quiet, and empty, when he's left. I feel like a landscape, a ground without a figure. Sauve qui peut --let those who can save themselves save themselves. Once I saw a drypoint of someone tiny being crucified on a fallow deer's antlers. I feel like his victim, and he seems my victim, I worry that the outstretched legs on the hart are bent the wrong way as he throws himself off. Oh my mate. I was vain of his faithfulness, as if it was a compliment, rather than a state of partial sleep. And when I wrote about him, did he feel he had to walk around carrying my books on his head like a stack of posture volumes, or the rack of horns hung where a hunter washes the venison down with the sauvignon? Oh leap, leap! Careful of the rocks! Does the old vow have to wish him happiness in his new life, even sexual joy? I fear so, at first, when I still can't tell us apart. Below his shaggy belly, in the distance, lie the even dots of a vineyard, its vines not blasted, its roots clean, its bottles growing at the ends of their blowpipes as dark, green, wavering groans. My Son's Father's Smile In my sleep, our son, as a child, said, of his father, he smiled me --as if into existence, into the family built around the young lives which had come from the charged bouquets, the dense oasis. That smile, those years, well what can a body say, I have been in the absolute present of a fragrant ignorance. And to live in those rooms, where one of his smiles might emerge, like something almost from another place, another time, another set of creatures, was to feel blessed, and to be held in mysteriousness, and a little in mourning. The thinness of his lips gave it a simplicity, like a child's drawing of a smile--a footbridge, turned over on its back, or seen under itself, in water--and the archer's bow gave it a curved unerring symmetry, a shot to the heart. I look back on that un- clouded face yet built of cloud, and that waning crescent moon, that look of deep, almost sad, contentment, and know myself lucky, that I had out the whole night of a half-life in that archaic hammock, in a sky whose darkness is fading, that first dream, from which I am now waking. Excerpted from Stag's Leap: Poems by Sharon Olds All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.