In this week’s poetry installment we are all sharing a poem by Sharon Olds. She is a prolific poet and you could get lost for days and days in her poetry books. The poem I have selected is from Stag’s Leap…poetry that shares her journey from from grief to healing after her divorce. A book of poetry that I wish I had read after my own divorce.
All of the poems are so beautiful, but one poem very much hit home for me… and I wonder if my poor children share these feelings because, like Sharon, they were all very planned babies. I did not use shirt cardboards (my ex liked his shirts starched and hanging) but I did have a “conception journal” where I graphed my temperature. (FYI, I looked for it, but could not find it but perhaps that is a good thing, lol) But I really hope that my kids realize, as Sharon does, that my world was infinitely so much better because they were in it!
I hope you enjoy this poem!
The Planned Child
I always hated the way they planned me, she
took the cardboards out of his shirts as if
pulling the backbone up out of his body and
made a chart of the month and put her
temperature on it, rising and falling, to
know the day to make me—I always
wanted to have been conceived in heat,
in haste, by mistake, in love, in sex,
not on cardboard, the little X on the
rising line that did not fall again.
But then you were pouring the wine red as the
gritty clay of this earth, or the blood,
grainy with tiny clots, that rides us
into this life, and you said you could tell I had
been a child who was wanted. I took the
wine into my mouth like my mother’s blood, as I had
ridden down toward the light with my lips
pressed against the sides of that valve in her body, she was
bearing down and then breaking in the mask and then
bearing down, pressing me out into the
world that was not enough for her without me in it,
not the moon, the sun, the stars, Orion
cartwheeling easily across the dark, not the
earth, the sea, none of it was
enough for her, without me.
The Planned Child by Sharon Olds, Stag’s Leap © 2012
Make sure you visit Kym, Bonny, and Sarah today to see what Sharon Olds poem they are sharing today!
I won’t be here tomorrow, but I will be back next week I am not certain about Monday but I will absolutely be here for Unraveled Wednesday. Have a great weekend everyone!
What a great example of the power of Sharon Olds’ poetry! Thanks so much for sharing it today, Kat. And I hope you are going to be doing something enjoyable and leisurely on your “days off.” XO
This is a beautiful poem, Kat! Her words paint such clear mental pictures for me, with the shirt cardboards and the wine leading into childbirth. I especially like the line “pressing me out into the world that was not enough for her without me in it”. Thanks so much for sharing this amazing poem!
Thank you! This is great! I love that you’ve all shared work by the same poet.
What a great and interesting poem! I had forgotten about planned pregnancies (mine was not…we just kept trying and it took me so long to get pregnant!!). But, friends of Colin & Mailing are currently doing the whole temperature thing! Really!!! Happy Easter Kat. I hope the weekend is a good one for you.
I love the line “pressing me out into the world that was not enough for her without me in it” — such a great sentiment about having children and why!
I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing weekend away!
Sharon Olds is a new-to-me poet and I love the different glimpses you four have given me into her work today. She has a powerful way with words … I can see and feel when I read them. Thank you!
Whoa – this is a good one! And I love how she captured the way you planned for your own children. Isn’t it wonderful when it feels like a poet has seen us in these special ways?
may you have a wonderful weekend!!
Sharon Olds is a wonderful poet. Thank you for sharing this poem.