Poetry Friday: First Thanksgiving, Sharon Olds

poetry friday (1)

Poetry Friday is hosted by Keri @Keri Recommends

Winter break ends at last for our youngest child.  Come Sunday, she will pack up her little car with all the must-haves for Spring semester, freshman year.  She will make a great fuss over our dog, hug us all, and then drive up the street and all the way back to college (a little too fast for my liking, which I will worry over until I receive a text message to say: here!).

The house, filled with her friends and baking parties, late night movie sessions,  day long a capella rehearsals, will fall silent again.  No longer will there be boots and heels to trip over when I come home from work, and no longer will I hear her singing as she goes about her daily tasks.  Sophie and I will take long walks after school alone, and she will turn her sad doggie eyes upon me as though to say, yes, I miss her, too.

Already, I regret making a fuss over dirty dishes left in the sink, and laundry bins left unattended.  Already, I am missing the presence of my child – off to make her mark on the world.




First Thanksgiving

by Sharon Olds

When she comes back, from college, I will see
the skin of her upper arms, cool,
matte, glossy. She will hug me, my old
soupy chest against her breasts,
I will smell her hair! She will sleep in this apartment,
her sleep like an untamed, good object,
like a soul in a body. She came into my life the
second great arrival, after him, fresh
from the other world—which lay, from within him,
within me. Those nights, I fed her to sleep,
week after week, the moon rising,
and setting, and waxing—whirling, over the months,
in a slow blur, around our planet.
Now she doesn’t need love like that, she has
had it. She will walk in glowing, we will talk,
and then, when she’s fast asleep, I’ll exult
to have her in that room again,
behind that door! As a child, I caught
bees, by the wings, and held them, some seconds,
looked into their wild faces,
listened to them sing, then tossed them back
into the air—I remember the moment the
arc of my toss swerved, and they entered
the corrected curve of their departure.

16 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: First Thanksgiving, Sharon Olds

  1. “and then, when she’s fast asleep, I’ll exult
    to have her in that room again,
    behind that door!”

    So beautiful, Tara… Such a loving place to launch from, your home. Livy is a fortunate young woman, and I am sure that she realizes it. Thank you for this one – I’m tucking it away.

  2. I agree with Amy, Tara. This is a poem to tuck away. I’ll take it out each time my daughter (not in college now but married and a mother herself) says “Bye, Mom!” and the car pulls aways and takes her back “home,” hundreds of miles away. When she went away to college, it was her empty room – the silence of it – that always knocked for a loop (before a phone call lifted me up again.) Thanks for sharing it.

  3. Right there with you, Tara! My boys went back to school two weeks ago and the house is way, way, way too empty. I know that it’s right for them to make their own way in the world, but the house is so, so, so empty without them. Thanks for this treasure!

  4. That last, “the corrected curve of their departure” is what we want for our children, but it still is not easy as the poem so beautifully shows. I’m happy you’ve had such a full time with Livy, but know how it hurts to see them go. Thanks for sharing Tara-thinking of you!

  5. Some poets just nail that feeling. Sharon Olds did it with “arc of my toss swerved, and they entered
    the corrected curve of their departure.” Oh, the longing of a mother for her daughter is echoing in her words. I know where you are. I’m there with you. I do know that the leaving is necessary for her to bee, but it doesn’t make the departure easier.

  6. You’re killing me, Tara – in a good way.

    Thanks for sharing this poem (I hadn’t seen and it is so perfect!). Sent my daughter back last weekend, and the son – the freshman – back the weekend before that. (But he’s actually making the long trek home for this long weekend, so I’m waiting on those headlights… :0) ) Okay, I’ll get my teary eyes all dried now….

  7. Tara, I’ve been there, but now we’ve gotten beyond that point and my daughter and I have become friends and have adult conversations together and go out for beers! It’s nice!

  8. Beautiful post for your beautiful daughter, Tara! My oldest is a high school junior – college is just around the corner. I will remember this post when she leaves her dirty cereal bowl on the counter all day… Thanks for sharing. =)

  9. I am the daughter, haven’t been the mother, but I have seen the reflection of this poem in my mother’s eyes. There is an ache in my heart every time I drive away now, knowing that sooner than I want, it will be the last time I ever see her standing at the door waving me on.

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