Quite a few of my friends and family have sent a son or daugher off to college this fall. And so this Thanksgiving will be the first holiday in which they welcome them back. From now on, there will be a flowing in and out as the young adult navigates two worlds, the one which grounded him or her, and the other in which they fly. 

A parent who has loved deeply feels the loss, and yet can celebrate the freedom of the child. In her poem, First Thanksgiving, Sharon Olds captures the myriad of emotions that accompany a child's homecoming. I caught the last few lines of this poem on an NPR special this week, and was delighted to find the entire poem over at poetryfoundation.org, one of several sites that resources poetry lovers.

First Thanksgiving
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.

Note on artwork. More art by this artist may be found here.

Leave a Reply.