The Love Object

Love invents the body that is not an object,
the cock that is not a thing, the breast
personal as a lover.
The small noble animal of the organs
you would rather die than devour.

I am taking the word love away from the object,
away from the body astral as a food
glowing on the plate.

I am taking the word love away from the boy
with skin the light sinks into
and hair red as steak on fire.
When he leans from his window like ice cream melting
my mouth waters hot salt.
I am taking the word love away from that
desire to bite.

We are all students of the object, watching that moment
the person becomes a thing.
We go to the dark room and see the woman
turn in an instant to an object with specific amounts of
blood coming to her mouth.

Love will not stand for these objects—it can follow a woman
all the way into death and declare her
still herself.
I am taking the word love away from the big eaters
and placing her in the mouth of the dead woman
like the head of a cockfight rooster, to be sucked back to life.

Sharon Olds