Beneath the surface of life Olds discovers ``what all of us want never to know''her own sexuality. Her obsessive descriptions of sex are too candid to be erotic: ``the condom/ripped and the seed tore into me like a/ flame.'' With evocative imagery (``We think about bones twisted like white/ saplings''), Olds searches through ``all the eloquence of the body'' for the means to assess her roles as daughter, lover, wife, mother, and woman. Despite a too-easy solipsism (``I looked at you and I tell you I knew you were God/ and I was God''), the best poetry occurs when Olds presents moments of awakening as though they had just happenedher baby's arms ``bent like a crab's rosy legs, the/ thighs closely-packed plums in heavy syrup.'' For poet and reader such moments are purifying. Frank Allen, Associate Dean, Continuing Education, Allentown Coll., Center Valley, Pa.