Poetry Tow Truck #23: Hurts So Good

Injuries are usually memorable events when they happen to us, but also when they happen to those we love.  One of my favorite poems by Sharon Olds is “The Latest Injury.”  Her description of her teenage son’s injury and the way she weaves her love for him into the poem is heart-wrenching, original, and stunning.

For today, try to write about an injury, one of your own or one of someone close to you. Go as deep into this as you are comfortable – a serious injury may be difficult to tackle, but it may also yield powerful writing; a minor (even humorous) injury could be successful in a completely different way.

Here is an example that I wrote about my son. (Don’t worry, Sharon Olds – you have no real competition here…)

The Wound

It does not even look like skin, the flesh

peeled away in curls, gray and tinted

with blood, flecked with gravel and dirt.

The center is deep, a hole where a hole

should not be, angry epidermis, perturbed

by the exposure of its inner self to air.

I irrigate, apply pressure, pour the bubbling

peroxide dead center and hold his leg still

as he flinches, this son who has asked

for my assistance. I prefer a wound that

I can see. Much more frightening are

the hidden ones that fester in hot tears,

in anger, in long silences punctuated by

the slamming of doors. The peroxide

sizzles the skin, a sign that it is working,

cleaning impurities, preventing infection.

If only I could so easily see the healing

of those secret places, the mad gash

of adolescence that widens each day,

scabbing over only to break and weep,

waiting to leave its telltale scars.


12 thoughts on “Poetry Tow Truck #23: Hurts So Good

  1. Oh, powerful poem, Donna! It’s amazing how the poem moves from “a hole” and its icky real “ew” factor, so familiar to anyone who has tended a wound, to the “mad gash.” Hey, I have a poem called “After the Playground” coming out in Literary Mama in August, also about a son, a wound. That’s a likely place for this one, too, yes? (And, as you say about Sharon Olds, our poems are different!)

  2. I also meant to say that I really appreciated your poem. I could picture your son’s wounds from your words. And yes, wounds that one can see, are more easily dealt with than wounds one cannot.

  3. Pingback: someone to watch over you | lost in translation

  4. Pingback: Friday Freeforall: Poetry Prompt Craziness « Margo Roby: Wordgathering

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