Sex Without Love

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SHARON OLDS (B. 1942)
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
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
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
priest instead of the 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-
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.
"Sex without love is merely mating with genital, but sex with loving intimacy is mating with the soul" (Unknown). As seen through my eyes, Sharon Olds is exploiting the modern day mixed emotions of casual intercourse. She cleverly and clearly narrates the poem with inventive imagery and not even once having to use the word sex. She challenges the idea of how two people can be in an intimate relationship without real love while exposing the loneliness of casual intercourse. "Beautiful as dancers, gliding over each other like ice skaters over the ice, fingers hooked inside each other's bodies, faces red as steak, wine, wet as the children at birth whose mothers are going to give them away." These actions are meant to amuse the mind but not satisfy the emptiness of the heart. I understand this as a vivid description of libido, another word for sexual desire. It is wonderful on the outside, just as dancers are pleasing to the eye, but sex without love has no...
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