Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Poetry Thursday

This week's prompt for Poetry Thursday was poetry to go. The idea was to create a heightened awareness of poetry by making a copy of a poem and carrying it with you through the week. I've been carrying a poem around with me in my head all week and it's been speaking to me for all sorts of reasons. It's by a poet named Ai, and I first found it at Very Like A Whale.


Grandfather Says


"Sit in my hand."
I'm ten.
I can't see him,
but I hear him breathing
in the dark.
It's after dinner playtime.
We're outside,
hidden by trees and shrubbery.
He calls it hide-and-seek,
but only my little sister seeks us
as we hide
and she can't find us,
as grandfather picks me up
and rubs his hands between my legs.
I only feel a vague stirring
at the edge of my consciousness.
I don't know what it is,
but I like it.
It gives me pleasure
that I can't identify.
It's not like eating candy,
but it's just as bad,
because I had to lie to grandmother
when she asked,
"What do you do out there?"
"Where?" I answered.
Then I said, "Oh, play hide-and-seek."
She looked hard at me,
then she said, "That was the last time.
I'm stopping that game."
So it ended and I forgot.
Ten years passed, thirtyfive,
when I began to reconstruct the past.
When I asked myself
why I was attracted to men who disgusted me
I traveled back through time
to the dark and heavy breathing part of my life
I thought was gone,
but it had only sunk from view
into the quicksand of my mind.
It was pulling me down
and there I found grandfather waiting,
his hand outstretched to lift me up,
naked and wet
where he rubbed me.
"I'll do anything for you," he whispered,
"but let you go."
And I cried, "Yes," then "No."
"I don't understand how you can do this to me.
I'm only ten years old,"
and he said, "That's old enough to know."

21 Comments:

Anonymous leonie said...

from the beginning of the poem, i could kind of guess what was coming, but found that i couldn't stop reading... sort of like being disgusted by something but not being able to turn away. an interesting choice of poem for the week and i thank you for sharing.

8/30/2006 10:54 PM  
Blogger gkgirl said...

this is a hard one to read
but only because it is written
so well,
written so real.

thank you for sharing this.

8/31/2006 5:47 AM  
Blogger Verity said...

This is so painful, it brought tears to my eyes.

8/31/2006 5:51 AM  
Blogger God's Child said...

!!!!!!!

8/31/2006 9:55 AM  
Blogger Lex Ham Rand said...

Oh, man. [sits silently]

8/31/2006 10:18 AM  
Blogger Left-handed Trees... said...

This poem was really something else. I cannot imagine carrying it "with" you all week, but then I know we all carry things with us. It was very moving...now, I'm going to have to read more of this poet and track the power of the lines. Thank you for sharing them.

8/31/2006 10:27 AM  
Blogger Bev said...

O M G!!!!

What else can I say, this just rips my heart out!

I had never thought of poetry as a way to talk about this subject, but it truly fits

you describe well the way a child remembers in flashes and pictures

amazing

8/31/2006 10:29 AM  
Blogger sheela said...

What a disturbing, powerful poem. Thank you for posting it.

8/31/2006 10:56 AM  
Blogger Paul Decelles said...

Thanks for finding this poem.

Disturbingly he grandfather is right. Old enough to know...thinking about my own feelings at that early age-which were often sexual.

That said-old enough to know some sort of sexual feelings BUT NOT old enough to understand, or consent in a meaningful way; young enough to be taken advantage of.

8/31/2006 11:43 AM  
Blogger JvS said...

The child's voice, the child's confusion, the way we blank things but don't lose them. Yes. A good choice.

8/31/2006 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Very Like A Whale said...

Thanks for the link, Rebecca. As you probably have found by now, the poet Ai has some even WORSE (but terribly good) stuff out there. You have to read her a little bit at a time. All best. -Nic

8/31/2006 1:29 PM  
Anonymous SB said...

An excellent, painful choice.

8/31/2006 6:20 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

To everyone who stopped by to comment and to everyone who didn't, I hope this poem stays with you, just for a little while. I know it's going to be haunting me for a long time to come.

8/31/2006 9:33 PM  
Blogger January said...

Ai is an amazing poet. I've read a lot of her persona poems, but I didn't know this one.

If you can find it, I like her (persona) poem "Saturn."

Thanks for choosing Ai as your poet/poem this week.

8/31/2006 9:39 PM  
Blogger willowtree said...

This is a heart written poem. I know that because the feelings of disgust the little girl had in the poem were mirrored by the feelings of disgust evoked in the reader.
Yeah, not easily forgotten.

9/01/2006 5:50 AM  
Blogger C said...

I think most people know someone who's been through something like this and many times it is the reader who has been through it.

9/01/2006 9:22 AM  
Blogger Flood said...

REBECCA! Congratulations!

9/01/2006 11:35 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

You see what I told you?!

9/01/2006 12:09 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Oh my frickin' god.

9/01/2006 1:15 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Ai's an amazing, ruthless, unflinching poet, and she adopts these personas that refuse to follow the agreeable.

Thanks for the links, too!

9/01/2006 4:30 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Jim, you're welcome. I'm planning to read every word she's ever written. This is my kind of poet, most definitely.

9/02/2006 1:04 AM  

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