In this poem, the child of a couple divorced, re-tells their feelings once their father is left with nothing. "When Mother divorced you, we were glad." This sets the tone of a bitter child with deep seeded daddy issues. Systematically the speaker lists the crumbling of their fathers life, after the divorce. First, the family, "kicked you (the father) out" and "Then you were fired, and we grinned inside." This twisted enjoyment the child feel, amplify when they think of how bad their "ex-father's" life is now.
Although this poem seems like one massive block of poetry, it is marked by structure with the reducing of the father's life. Starting with the mother kicking him out, then his divorce from his family and finally his firing from work. The layers of this unknown characters life are being peeled away, as the poem progresses. "Now I pass the bums in doorways...and I wonder who took it from them in silence until they had given it all away and had nothing left but this." Summing up the disintegration of their father's life, by relating it to a bum's empty life, shows the true emotional anger and hurt the child still feels. With the beginning of the poem being in the past, it ends with the child seemingly in present day and safely without their father.
Sharon Olds on her autobiographical poetry:
sestina: six words
9 years ago