Thursday, April 14, 2022

National Poetry Month: Week 2

To celebrate National Poetry Month, several of us are sharing poetry with you on Thursdays in April. Today we're all sharing different poems from the same poet, Sharon Olds. She is a contemporary poet that you may or may not have heard of. She's won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award, but I am most impressed by her ability to write personal, emotional poetry, poems that are full of details about her personal life but that I think many of us can relate to.

The poem below struck a chord with me. I distinctly remember a moment in the living room when Ryan was 15 and Justin was 13. They were both wearing shorts (showing their young men's muscles and hairy legs) and sitting on the sofa playing a video game. I looked over and thought, "They are young MEN! When did this happen and why wasn't I paying attention?" It was almost surreal, and it feels as if Sharon Olds could have written this poem for me for that occasion.

My Son the Man
by Sharon Olds

Suddenly his shoulders get a lot wider,
the way Houdini would expand his body
while people were putting him in chains. It seems
no time since I would help him to put on his sleeper,
guide his calves into the gold interior,
zip him up and toss him up and
catch his weight. I cannot imagine him
no longer a child, and I know I must get ready,
get over my fear of men now my son
is going to be one. This was not
what I had in mind when he pressed up through me like a
sealed trunk through the ice of the Hudson,
snapped the padlock, unsnaked the chains,
and appeared in my arms. Now he looks at me
the way Houdini studied a box
to learn the way out, then smiled and let himself be manacled.


Olds, Sharon, "My Son the Man." The Wellspring, Alfred A. Knopf, 1996. 
You can read more about the poet here


Be sure to check in with KymKat, and Sarah for more of Sharon Olds' poetry today, and join 
us next Thursday for more poems in celebration of National Poetry Month. (And remember 
that any time is good for poetry, not just Thursdays in April!)


  1. oh that is perfection in a poem, Bonny! thank you for sharing that memory to go along with it.

  2. That's just a marvelous poem, Bonny. I think any mother (of sons or daughters) will be able to relate . . . to the utter amazement of watching our tiny children become fully themselves -- and so much bigger than we ever imagined. (And I just love that photo of Ryan and Justin.) XO

  3. This is just a marvelous poem, Bonny. I remember having those same thoughts about my kids... how did I miss them becoming adults? Sharon shares so perfectly what so many mothers feel! I love her poetry.

  4. Amazing. I love that you're all sharing her poems... loved Kym's, now yours, and can't wait to see what Kat's posted! I'm off...

  5. Thank you for sharing your personal reasons for connecting with that poem. As someone who doesn't read much poetry, it helps me to understand it better.

  6. Oh wow! What a poem!! I still have those thoughts (and Colin is now in his 30's). When did that happen? Why didn't I pay attention? HOW did it happen? Etc., etc. Thanks so much for sharing this poem Bonny. And, what a great picture of your two boys/men!

  7. I may not have a son and thus cannot know if this is truly accurate, but I'd venture to say that this poem very eloquently captures the feeling when any parent looks at their child and suddenly sees that they're not a child anymore. I'm also glad that when my younger brother became a stinky, hairy teenager, I was already in college!

  8. What a great poem for mothers everywhere, especially those with sons. I had a similar moment when I looked at my son and thought how did he get to be a young man.


Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment! :-)