My Son the Man

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 put on his sleeper,
guide his calves into the shadowy 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,
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.

“My Son the Man” from Strike Sparks by Sharon Olds. Copyright © 2004 by Sharon Olds. Originally published by Alfred A. Knopf. Used with the permission of the author.

This poem was originally read in the On Being episode “Odes to the *****.

Reflections