Sticks and Stones

I learned yesterday that I am a finalist in this competition. Here is the poem I sent in. I will be sending the rest of the manuscript now.

She was reminded of the aphorisms from childhood:
“This is for your own good” and also,
“This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.”

He never wanted to spurn her. There was something
Uncontrollable in him, a world of the parent
That enabled him to decide that making his world
Disappear from her was for her own good.
He let her grip on his thighs slide down
To his knees and then to his calves and then
She fell to earth as he continued to fly.
He was so sure he was hurting more.

She didn’t realize this at the time.
It was only afterward—after the trials,
The lentils, the descent to the three-headed dog,
The catastrophe of the box, and all
That followed that she learned.

He came for her then and the aphorisms
Shone on his wings like the sun.
Yet did they dull her love for him?
Does a child stop loving a parent who beats her
For her own good? She went back
To Paradise and was no longer a child.
She did not listen to his wings.

Each night she wrote a sentence she never
Wanted to hear him say, and in this way,
She could be with him without her bones breaking.

3 thoughts on “Sticks and Stones

  1. Oh, Shaun, this is absolutely, tragically beautiful. The line, “He was so sure he was hurting more,” is just haunting. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  2. This is a beautifully painful twist on Psyche and Eros. I just love it.
    Congrats on being a finalist! You said you still have to turn in the rest of the manuscript, how many poems total do you have to submit?

  3. wow… What a painful and wonderful poem Shaun. I especially like the last lines. I felt the work that must have happened to shift the sadness and anguish of abuse. Thanks for sharing it. and WOW, how cool is it that you are a finalist. I have poetry envy in a good way. I’m so glad you put up this blog. I enjoy dropping in and reading your work. I have great satisfaction in writing on mine everyday. I’m hoping to pull out a few and pull together a chapbook this year.
    Blessing to you Shaun. j

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