August 06, 2006|By TED KOOSER

As a man I'll never gain the wisdom Sharon Olds expresses in this poem about motherhood, but one of the reasons poetry is essential is that it can take us so far into someone else's experience that we feel it's our own. - Ted Kooser

"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 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.

Ted Kooser was U.S. poet laureate, 2004-2006. Reprinted from "The Wellspring" by Sharon Olds, by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. Poem copyright (c) 1996 by Sharon Olds.

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