This week, I will be sharing poems on the subject of children growing up and/or leaving home. I did consider other topics that I know would be quite fitting for this month and time of year; however, this is the subject that is speaking with the loudest voice to me, at the moment.
Although this particular poem is about a child leaving for summer camp, it resonates with me, as a parent, the feeling of an adult child going out into the world and the hopes and worries for their preparedness and whether you have done enough, for your part.
I first discovered Sharon Olds in my local library years ago when I was first acquainting myself with poetry. I live in a very small, rural town where, sadly, poetry is of little to no significance for most. For a library with a poetry collection that barely fills two rows on one shelf, I was lucky to find just the one book of her poetry, which I believe was, The Unswept Room. Not long after, I purchased her book, Blood, Tin, Straw at a second-hand bookstore (aren’t they the best?!). This book includes the poem, “The Summer-Camp Bus Pulls Away from the Curb”.
I hope you enjoy the poem as much as I do!
Thanks for reading!
The Summer-Camp Bus Pulls Away from the Curb
Whatever he needs, he has or doesn’t
have by now.
Whatever the world is going to do to him
it has started to do. With a pencil and two
Hardy Boys and a peanut butter sandwich and
grapes he is on his way, there is nothing
more we can do for him. Whatever is
stored in his heart, he can use, now.
Whatever he has laid up in his mind
he can call on. What he does not have
he can lack. The bus gets smaller and smaller, as one
folds a flag at the end of a ceremony,
onto itself, and onto itself, until
only a heavy wedge remains.
Whatever his exuberant soul
can do for him, it is doing right now.
Whatever his arrogance can do
it is doing to him. Everything
that’s been done to him, he will now do.
Everything that’s been placed in him
will come out, now, the contents of a trunk
unpacked and lined up on a bunk in the underpine light.