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First Breath.

 As soon as she is born--she, he--the moment the newborn breathes
for the first time, taking, from the general supply, some air, pulling
it down half her length, into the base of the lobe which had first
existed like a mattery idea, and then had become the folded lung, which
lay in blue wait; as soon as the sky is drawn in, like a petal
expanding, in fast motion, opening into the new being-- oxygen, where it
had never been, taking the neonate's bluish shade back into the
empyrean; as soon as she's taken the good of one breath, and given
back the rest--look, she is dying. I mean she is living--for a time,
maybe one hundred years--but she is on her way, now, to that ending. She
had never died at all, until now, never before been offered the human
work. 


SHARON OLDS is the author of eight volumes of poetry, including Satan Says (1980), The Dead and the Living (1983), Blood, Tin, Straw (1999), The Gold Cell (1997), The Wellspring (1995), and One Secret Thing (2008). Her poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times. Named New York State Poet Laureate (1998-2000), Olds teaches graduate poetry workshops at New York University and at the writing workshop she helped found at a 900-bed state hospital for the severely disabled. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science.
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Title Annotation:sixteen poems: A Special APR Supplement
Author:Olds, Sharon
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Nov 1, 2011
Words:302
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