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…)
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.