• 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.
    Sometimes the cycle has a pattern, sometimes
    the new is followed in an instant by the full,
    as if a face turned suddenly toward you,
    and in its holes and shadows you could read
    the next hour of your life.

    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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