A Pair of Sonnets Against the Corporal Chastisement of Children

Sharon Olds

Fall 2018

Blows That Fall on a Child

Blows don’t fall. Feathers fall,
and are dropped from towers. Leaves fall.
Dictionaries fall from towers–
the speed of their fall accelerates,
and the rate of the acceleration
accelerates. What falls is something
let go of, something gravity
is hauling to it, to tiramisu it–
dessert that says pull me to you. The liver
and lights of the body that the blows strike are not
magnets, the blow is neither drawn
to its objects nor floated down from its source–
a blow is driven, by an engine, it is
the expression of a heart.

 

 

The Progeny of Punishment

They inherit the earth. They crawl on it,
they pull themselves up, they walk, they look up,
they do not know which visage they will see
above them—the crescent, or the waxing gibbous,
seas and craters of the eyes nose mouth.

Sharon Olds has published thirteen volumes of poetry, which have won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, among other honors. She teaches at NYU.

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