These poems beautifully address the bittersweet experience of parting with our grown up daughters.
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.
Sharon Olds, “First Thanksgiving” from Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980-2002.
That I be not a restless ghost
Who haunts your footsteps as they pass
Beyond the point where you have left
Me standing in the new sprung grass,
You must be free to take a path
Whose end I feel no need to know,
No irking fever to be sure
You went where I would have you go,
Those who would fence the future in
Between two walls of well-laid stones
But lay a ghost walk for themselves,
A dreary walk for dusty bones.
So you can go without regret
Away from this familiar land,
Leaving your kiss upon my hair
And all the future in your hands.
Mead wrote this to her daughter, her only child , when she made her a grandmother.