Published on Academy of American Poets (


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.

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

Born on November 8, 1948, Rachel Hadas is the author of numerous books of poetry, essays, and translations, including Halfway Down the Hall: New & Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1998), which was a finalist for the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.

Date Published: 2014-05-30

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