The Willow and the Lilac
Sometimes, he said, she beat them
with willow, for the smallest things;
sometimes she beat them with lilac —
rougher, harder — for the larger:
a woman too old to raise
these children left by their father,
adrift on their mother’s rage.
The willow whipped, but bent
in its green lengths against
their bare bums: poor cheeks
bluing, bruising before her.
The lilac banged and scraped —
With willow or with lilac: could this
be true, or another of his tales?
Maybe his grandmother grabbed
a stray stick or piece of kindling;
in any case, they cried, by all the world
forsaken, wrong without knowing
why; knowing only how hurt
was done. And hurt in their own
turn as soon as they could, as much.about the author