Nurse Whitman [Poem]

James SchminckeUncategorized

— Sharon Olds, 1980

You move between the soldiers’ cots
the way I move among my dead,
their white bodies laid out in lines.

You bathe the forehead, you bathe the lip, the cock,
as I touch my father, as if the language
were a form of life.

You write their letters home, I take the dictation
of his firm dream lips, this boy
I love as you love your boys.

They die and you still feel them. Time
becomes unpertinent to love,
to the male bodies in the beds.

We bend over them, Walt, taking their breath
soft on our faces, wiping their domed brows,
stroking back the coal-black Union hair.

We lean down, our pointed breasts
heavy as plummets with fresh spermy milk –
we conceive, Walt, with the men we love, thus, now,
we bring to fruit.

Collected from Absurdity on Tumblr