'The Dead and the Living' by Sharon Olds
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The Dead and the Living
By Sharon Olds

Some people are put off by Olds—the way she explores difficult topics—but I'm interested in learning about those kinds of deep, dark places. I've always been attracted to one poem in particular, called "The Elder Sister." My younger sister, Elizabeth, always seemed like a warrior to me. I know it should be the other way around, since I'm the elder, but it wasn't. And this poem describes the way I see her: "She protected me, not as a mother / protects a child, with love, but as a / hostage protects the one who makes her / escape as I made my escape, with my sister's / body held in front of me."

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