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Sharon Olds

"Sex without Love"

How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love? Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other's bodies, faces 5
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away. How do they come to the
come to the    come to the     God    come to the
still waters, and not love 10
the one who came there with them, light
rising slowly as steam off their joined
skin? These are the true religious,
the purists, the pros, the ones who will not
accept a false Messiah, love the 15
priest instead of God. They do not
mistake the lover for their own pleasure,
they are like great runners: they know they are alone
with the road surface, the cold, the wind,
the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio- 20
vascular health--just factors, like the partner
in the bed, and not the truth, which is the
single body alone in the universe
against its own best time.
1984
from: Olds, Sharon. The Dead and the Living. New York: Alfred A.
         Knopf., Inc., 1983.