An Analysis of 35/10 by Sharon Olds

The reader may interpret, 35/10 by Sharon Olds, as a poem about a mother longingly admiring the youthfulness of her daughter’s body. The mother does not long to possess such a body once more, rather to share the experience of creating life alongside her daughter. She realizes that as her daughter comes of age to procreate, her own ability to do so will deteriorate. 

Olds portrays the fear of the disposability of human beings. As a newer, younger and fresher generation of people “[open] like a… flower” the potential and possibilities that the old once possessed “[falls] through [their] body”. The daughter will one day assume the role of “mother” to her own child. Consequently, nature would no longer require the mother to play the role of “mother”. 

The primes  poem is based on the poet’s fantasy as Sharon Olds’ only child was her son. The ideas discussed were based on the reality that as her child comes of age, her own time is running out. The title of the poem- being 35/10- implies that the poet is a 35 year old mother tending for her 10 year old daughter. If the poet were presenting her 35 year old self in the poem, the details of her aging described- such as being “silver haired”, “pit skinned” and facing her “last chances to bear a child”- are heavily exaggerated. 

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