American Life in Poetry: Column 286

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

One of my friends told me he’d seen a refrigerator magnet that read, PARENTING; THE FIRST 40 YEARS ARE THE HARDEST. Here’s a fine poem about parenthood, and about letting go of children, by Chana Bloch, who lives in Berkeley, California.

Through a Glass

On the crown of his head
where the fontanelle pulsed
between spongy bones,
a bald spot is forming, globed and sleek
as a monk’s tonsure.

I was the earliest pinch of civilization,
the one who laced him
into shoe leather
when he stumbled into walking upright.
“Shoes are unfair to children,” he’d grouse.

Through a pane of glass
that shivers when the wind kicks up
I watch my son walk away.

He’s out the door, up the street, around
a couple of corners by now.
I’m in for life.
He trips; my hand flies out;

I yank it back.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2009 by Chana Bloch from her most recent book of poems, Blood Honey, Autumn House Press, 2009, and reprinted by permission of Chana Bloch and Autumn House Press. Introduction copyright © 2018 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.