The Fear of Oneself
As we get near the house, taking off our gloves,
the air forming a fine casing of
ice around each hand,
you say you believe I would hold up under torture
for the sake of our children. You say you think I have
courage. I lean against the door and weep,
the tears freezing on my cheeks with brittle
I think of the women standing naked
on the frozen river, the guards pouring
buckets of water over their bodies till they
glisten like trees in an ice storm.
I have never thought I could take it, not even
for the children. It is all I have wanted to do,
to stand between them and pain. But I come from a
who put themselves
first. I lean against the huge dark
cold door, my face glittering with
glare ice like a dangerous road,
and think about hot pokers, and goads,
and the skin of my children, the delicate, tight,
thin top layer of it,
covering their whole bodies, softly
by American Poet, Sharon Olds (b 1942)
Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, 2013
While I cannot claim to have endured the unspeakable tortures of fire and ice described here by Sharon Olds, I can say that an unexpected experience once taught me that, whether I knew it or not, I would take a hatchet in the back without hesitation for the sake of my children.
about the day, eighteen years ago, when I learned that
"I could take it"
on my new Fortnightly Post
"Be As Brave As Sharon Olds"
The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A fortnightly [every 14th & 28th]
literary blog of connection & coincidence; custom & ceremony