35/10 By Sharon Olds
Sharon Olds is famous for her many poems such as The Unborn, The Victims, and The End. Olds is a wonderful author/poet that has won many awards for her poems, these awards include: the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award, and the first San Francisco Poetry Center Award in 1980. In her poem 35/10 she uses connotation by comparing the mothers old aging body to her daughter’s young body and how, the older you get the heavier toll it takes on your body. An example of this comparison is when the author says, ” as my shin shows its dry pitting, she opens like a moist flower on the tip of a cactus” (Line 9-10). In this line of the poem Olds explains how as the mothers skin wrinkles and ages the daughters skin is becoming more beautiful each day therefore each day the daughter is a representation of how old the mother is getting. This is represented through many things such as the colors she uses in the poem, the specific words she uses and her depiction of the relationship between the mother and daughter.In many poems the colors have many different meanings, in this line “Brushing out our daughter’s brown silken hair before the mirror I see the grey gleaming on my head, the silver-haired servant behind her” (Line 1-2). Old’s uses the colors brown and grey not just for hair color but to represent age. Brown is considered a bright and young color whereas grey is represented as an old and fading color. The significances of these colors are of how old, or young, the person is. The grey-haired mother, the “servant”, is visibly changing, the streaks grey “gleaming” as an imminent sign of aging. The daughter’s hair however is brown and silken, her hair is youthful and new. The use of the words grey, and brown add to the comparison of ages and the overall theme of replacement.
Why is it just as we begin to go they begin to arrive, the fold in my neck clarifying as the fine bones of her hips sharpen? In this line the author is asking Why is it that as you die your children begin to live. It seems as if as the older you get the less things you can do such as having to grow up, pay bills clean, and take care of your family. when your young you don’t have to worry about all the responsibilities that you have as you be come an adult. This line also represents how the mothers skin is old and sinking and has been though many things. While the daughters skin is young and new and hasn’t seen as much wear and tear as the mothers’ skin has. As the mother’s life clock is ticking away, the daughter begins to take on her place in the world. One day when the mother is unable to have children her daughter will bloom into her youth and then soon she will be married and have kids of her own. The mother feels as if her time on the earth is being transferred to her daughter.
I brush her tangled fragrant hair at bedtime. It’s an old story—the oldest we have on our planet—the story of replacement” (Line 15-16). In this line the mother knows that her daughter will eventually take over her role in this world. The author makes the reader feel as if the mother is almost jealous of her daughter as she begins her transformation into womanhood, like she is stealing her youth. For every wonderful thing the mother says about her daughter, for example her being a moist flower, the mother says something negative about herself like her dry pitting skin (Line 9-10). Another example of this is when the mother says she is reaching the bottom of her egg purse, while her daughters are full and waiting.
In conclusion, Sharron olds is a wonderful poet who writes excellent poems like her famous poem 35/10, olds explains how as the mothers skin wrinkles and ages the daughters skin is becoming more beautiful each day therefore each day the daughter is a representation of how old the mother is getting. This is represented through many things such as the colors she uses in the poem, the specific words she uses and her depiction of the relationship between the mother and daughter.