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The Whipping

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Written by Robert Hayden

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 The old woman across the way
 is whipping the boy again
and shouting to the neighborhood
 her goodness and his wrongs.
Wildly he crashes through elephant ears, pleads in dusty zinnias, while she in spite of crippling fat pursues and corners him.
She strikes and strikes the shrilly circling boy till the stick breaks in her hand.
His tears are rainy weather to woundlike memories: My head gripped in bony vise of knees, the writhing struggle to wrench free, the blows, the fear worse than blows that hateful Words could bring, the face that I no longer knew or loved .
.
.
Well, it is over now, it is over, and the boy sobs in his room, And the woman leans muttering against a tree, exhausted, purged-- avenged in part for lifelong hidings she has had to bear.


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