Love 7: Sex without Love

What follows is the view of the much-awarded poet, Sharon Olds one of whose main subjects is the primacy of the body and of its surfaces.

Here she rejects one of the outcomes of Second Wave Feminism (‘the West’; 1960-1985). 

This, along with the widespread availability of contraception for women, permanently delinked sex and ‘love’.


I imagine that everything in the known universe is on a continuum depending ….. and why anyone wants to limit the manner of sex between consenting adults is unclear to me.

Consenting Sapiens.  Consenting primates. Consenting.  





Sex Without Love, 1981

Sharon Olds, American born 1942




7-5, 2007, oil, acrylic and pencil on paper, 2007.  Bruce Samuelson, American born 1946.  Woodmere Museum of Art, Philadelphia



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.