This post was written by Valerie Loveland about her relationship with Sharon Olds's The Gold Cell.
Visiting my Friend from College
Gold Cell I still don’t know what your title or your cover means.
Gold Cell you are the first poetry book a friend loaned me and he regretted it.
Gold Cell, I am sorry I roughed you up!
Gold Cell, how is it possible that you weren’t published the day I was born?
Gold Cell, I could only start sentences with Gold and could only end them with Cell.
Gold Cell, why didn’t you tell me that men will pretend to like poetry to trick me into believing we could have a poetry life together?
Gold Cell I went with them to an arcade and read you instead of playing video games.
Gold Cell, I only wanted to talk about poetry my entire talking life.
Gold Cell, I used you as a poetry diplomat.
Gold Cell, you are thicker than I remember!
Gold Cell you are a time machine a nostalgia machine a regret machine a poetry machine an embarrassment machine.
Gold Cell, remember my uptight friend who accidentally chose the poem that sexualizes the states to read out loud in class?
Gold Cell you name drop my favorite style of dresses to allow me see you even more clearly.
Gold Cell, my friend recently told me she didn’t understand why people like you. I had to defend you and didn’t know how.
Gold Cell you hide from me on my bookcase with your red cover because I was looking for a gold book.
Gold Cell you were such a companion I started calling you Goldie.
Goldie you are back in my backpack and I am 19 again and we are both boy crazy.
Goldie, I wrote you are back in my backpack but I keep writing “where you belong” and then keep erasing “where you belong.”
Inspired by Morgan Parker's Other People's Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night, recommended by Valerie Loveland.
The inspiration comes from her title "On Children, How I Hate Them And Want To Corrupt Them, And How You Know I Hate Them, And What That Could Mean".
Working With Children Inspired Me To Grow Up And Be Happier Than The Type Of People Who Work With Children
When i was too young to know
better I loved the people and
hated the job
Kids who tried to
climb me out of their parents’
poverty And parents
who paid me mistress money to
keep their children out of their schedules
There was never just one type of reason to quit
Before the degree was
a piece of paper It was a life
sentence chosen at seventeen
when i thought adults only
and that depression was chicken pox
It was a teacher we’d nicknamed Princess
Thundercloud who taught me to stare like
amaretto sour My face part barometer
part classified document that everyone
suspected they knew the contents of but nobody had
When Princess Thudercloud was pinned
under a car And the ambulances arrived
on time for her but late for retrieving her
students’ now bloodied homework
and the list of which children would be
picked up by late parents and which would
ride home on the bus
Parents and teachers ignored the sirens
around the but my coworker might be
dead apologies And insisted there must be a better
system to keep track of their kids And
why weren’t we already implementing it?
I’d like to think
my mother loved me more than paperwork
flying away from the broken
glass of a woman she only
spoke to on conference
night But that she’d at least be
decent enough to suffer a schedule
glitch in a moment of silence for
a misfortune bigger than having to
leave work early to pick up a son
who should've been sent
home on the bus
I gave up my career to pour
coffee A beverage i don’t even drink
Managed a wine store Another
concoction of capitalism and beverages I had
no taste for And quit that too
I made a great server
Happy at twenty percent but always
striving for enough to retire
I don’t miss the kids but
i miss being the sort of person kids liked
Now i push off the heads of strangers
exhausted by sitting next to me on buses
Never imagine a summer day no matter
the heat of my impending future
An ongoing conversation between writers and the text that they're reading.