The dreaded belt with the big metal buckle
Flying from the back of the bathroom door.
The trudges to cut switches from bushes.
Not green enough, going back to cut
Another. Green doesn't break as she
The out-of-the-blue rages,
The senseless shouts.
Having to wear long sleeves and long socks.
Being beaten for rolling them. Being called
Stupid and Stubborn and Nothing but
Trouble. "Wish you had never been born!"
The never knowing
And knowing that thinking about telling can get you
Skinned Alive. One word to the doctor, be the closet.
Keep your trap shut when so-and-so is here. No
Moping. No whining. Do not get dirty. Stand up
Straight. What did you say? Bend over. . .it is over.
It is really over.
No more Belt. No more Switch. No more of Their
Knockdown-dragouts and screaming, shouting fits.
You are Out. You got Out. Sandpaper-rough bristles
Of a hairbrush will never again leave stripes on
How do you make good out of bad?
You do your best
To be kind.
To be gentle.
To be thoughtful.
(c) Phyllis Jean Green
for the children
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