Sharon Olds
Sex Without Love (1984)

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How do they do it, the ones who make love

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without love? Beautiful as dancers,

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Gliding over each other like ice-skaters

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over the ice, fingers hooked

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inside each other's bodies, faces

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red as steak, wine, wet as the

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children at birth, whose mothers are going to

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give them away. How do they come to the

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come to the

come to the

God

come to the

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still waters, and not love

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the one who came there with them, light

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rising slowly as steam off their joined

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skin? These are the true religious,

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the purists, the pros, the ones who will not

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accept a false Messiah, love the

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priest instead of the God. They do not

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mistake the lover for their own pleasure,

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they are like great runners: they know they are alone

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with the road surface, the cold, the wind,

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the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-

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vascular health--just factors, like the partner

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in the bed, and not the truth, which is the

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single body alone in the universe

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against its own best time.