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About this Poem 

“Since my son recently turned thirty, ‘Recognitions’ could be said to be fifteen years old. But the poem was never published, perhaps because it was never wholly satisfactory. My latest tinkerings resulted in the present version. Now my son is older instead of younger than my students, but—as when he was a yawning infant or a cautious adolescent in a troop—being his mother still helps me to take in the world more personally, humanly, maybe more humanely than might otherwise be the case.

—Rachel Hadas


Rachel Hadas, 1948

When my son was a few weeks old,
replicas of his yawning face appeared
suddenly on drowsy passersby:

middle-aged man’s gape that split his beard,
old woman on a bus, a little girl—
all told a story that I recognized.

Now he is fifteen.
As my students shuffle in the door
of the classroom, any of the boys

could easily be him—
foot-dragging, also swaggering a little,
braving the perils of a public space

by moving in a wary little troop.
But the same sleepy eyes, the same soft face.
We recognize the people whom we love,

or love what we respond to as our own,
trusting that one day someone
will look at us with recognition.

Copyright @ 2014 by Rachel Hadas. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 30, 2014.

Rachel Hadas

Rachel Hadas

Rachel Hadas is the author of numerous books of poetry, essays, and

by this poet

So far the nights feel lonelier than the days.
In light, the living keep me company,
and memories of voices through the years.

Each summer threads a green familiar maze.
Emerging sun-struck, you can barely spy
the slow kaleidoscope of clouds and hours.

Those flannel nightshirts chilly sleepers wear
as summer
Dreams draw near at dawn and then recede
even if you beckon them.
They loom like demons
you tug by the tail to examine from up close
and then let fly away.
Their colors at once brighter and less bright
than you remembered, they
hover and insinuate all day
at the corner of your eye.