Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Superman Steps Down


The boy, dressed as usual like Superman, admires himself
in the mirror. His leggings, pajama bottoms, are just the right
shade of blue. Size 4 red underpants worn over his middle--also a
surprisingly good approximation. Perched on the shoulders of his
matching top is a red flannel cape, the gold S cut and glued,
the lumps puckered and still visible. On his feet, ankle-high
quilted red booties, outgrown by a friend or cousin.

Pleased, he descends the stairs on his bottom, then leaves the house
for what neither of us knows will be his last venture as Superman.
No one will tease him. Nothing bad happens on this last flight--
except that while outside, he grows up one increment, the very
increment that causes a boy to ask do I look silly? And there is no
answer, no turn of phrase, not a demurral in the world that will
stop a boy from retiring a red cape.

Deborah Gang, originally from Washington D.C., moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to attend grad school and remained there, both for her work as a psychotherapist and the proximity to Lake Michigan. She resumed writing a few years ago when her second son left for college. Her research has been published in Education and Treatment of Children and her poems in Literary Mama, Encore, The Michigan Poet and J Journal (CUNY). You can find her at

More from

I love the poet's recognition and celebration of that one moment, "the increment," after which something changes irrevocably.
This poem presents that strong image of a young boy's unspoken journey and evolution through the use of vivid images. Yes- I can see the cape, and colors. I also like the title.
Growing up is so much better when outside influences are secondary. The poet chapters this self-motivated transition beautifully!
Comments are now closed for this piece.