Stag’s Leap Poems by Sharon Olds

Stag's Leap 1
Stag's Leap 2
Stag's Leap 3
Stag's Leap 4
Stag's Leap 5
Stag's Leap 6
Stag's Leap 7
Stag's Leap 8

Last week, I shared my favorite poems from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde and I’m continuing my consumption of written poetry collections in the form of Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds. I’ve been in an aggressive depression spiral for the past couple of weeks and all I want to do is sleep and read sad poetry, so when I read a snippet of one of Olds’ pieces, I immediately purchased the chapbook. Stag’s Leap is a collection she wrote which describes the seasons she experienced after her husband of 30 years told her he was leaving her for another woman. For the depressed romantic like myself, this book is the perfect knife in the chest (but also probably makes depression worse, so readers beware). Olds walks the reader through each step of the marriage ending, from the moment her husband told her he was leaving until years after their divorce. My favorite poem of the entire collection is the first one pictured where they’re saying goodbye to each other in an airport. Olds does such an incredible job at helping the reader visualize the exact scene written and how she felt during the heartbreaking periods. Some poems by other authors would utilize more complex diction or make the audience work even harder to immerse themselves in the scene, but Olds chooses an easier road. I chose each poem pictured because of the way they made me feel like I was standing right there with the couple through their most devastating experiences. The pieces gradually move throughout time as Olds describes her final times with her husband from their last love making to the glance she remembers while signing divorce papers. Interestingly, a majority of the chapbook focuses on how she still feels tied to her ex after they’re no longer together as she remembers his hip bone, the way he snored, and how their bodies meshed. I found these parts of the book most satisfying while she achingly struggles to move on. I wouldn’t argue that Stag’s Leap is therapeutic for anyone triggered by love trauma, but I personally can’t put the book down and I don’t think I will anytime soon.