Once by Sharon Olds

Ah, but I found this little gem today which has been hiding in my shelf for years.

Once
Sharon Olds

I saw my father naked, once, I
opened the blue bathroom door
which he always locked — if it opened, it was empty —
and there, surrounded by the glistening turquoise
tile, sitting on the toilet, was my father,
all of him, and all of him
was skin. In an instant my gaze ran
in a single, swerving, unimpeded
swoop, up: toe, ankle,
knee, hip, rib, nape,
shoulder, elbow, wrist, knuckle,
my father. He looked so unprotected,
so seamless, and shy, like a girl on a toilet,
and even though I knew he was sitting
to shit, there was no shame in that
but even a human peace. He looked up,
I said Sorry, backed out, shut the door
but I’d seen him, my father a shorn lamb,
my father a cloud in the blue sky
of the blue bathroom, my eye had driven
up the hairpin mountain road of the
naked male, I had turned a corner
and found his flank ungarded — gentle
bulge of the hip-joint, border of the pelvic cradle.

From Blood, Tin, Straw by Sharon Olds, published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.

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