Poetry Friday: That Certainty by Helen Frost

On Wednesday, I interviewed Helen Frost. Today I share her poem “That Certainty” which is included in the new anthology, A Ritual to Read to Each Other: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford.

That Certainty

People think they’re good because
somebody hit them when they weren’t.
They say Ya gotta teach em—
dogs or kids—how else they gonna learn?
I don’t answer, never have known how
to say No, you’d be good anyway.
I’m sure of it.

That certainty—I’m right,
you’re wrong—is what somebody
hit them with a long long time ago.

When I neither argue nor agree
they glance at me, then look away,
and back, and in that flash
before our talk moves on, I see
the child in that moment
just before the slap, the fist,
the tongue-lash taught them
they were bad, they had to learn
how to be good.
Helen Frost

Reprinted with permission of the author; copyright Pecan Grove Press, San Antonio, Texas, 2009.

This Sunday, January 17, at Powell’s Bookstore on Hawthorne, a celebration of William Stafford’s life and legacy and a launch book will be held. Kim Stafford with be there and will the Oregon Poet Laureate, Paulann Peterson.

Poetry Friday is held at Keri Recommends. Thanks, Keri.

Happy Friday. Happy poetry.