Two-Handed Punishment

I don’t really consider myself a poet, but I do write poetry occasionally. I wrote this one a few months ago after a student uttered one of the more humorous colloquialisms I’ve heard. I thought I might put it here.


“Grandma’d come down with a bible and a switch
and beat the hell out of us with the both of’m.”
-Student, High School Junior

And I think she must have.
He was a child with a turn and curve of
mouth that wanted whipping,
and she must have thought her God
with the force of hickory
could turn his mouth to her or Him,
if she knew the difference.
Never mentioned whether he picked the switch,
which is most common,
but left me with the vision
of a judgement made--
perhaps more merciful than the
penitent search for punishment
long or short, light or heft, flex or firm.

I can see her with the Word and rod raised high,
and I know it must not have been like that at all.
But a whipping she surely gave.
And afterward, when he had tired of tears,
she would dry what was left
and sooth with hands hard and cool,
and a piece of that candy kept in the tin.
When it had gone and left a grainy
sweetness on his inner cheek
she would return then,
up from where she came.
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