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Didn'T Hurt

I remember the moment when
I gave up hitting my child.

She was two years old. She was roaring wild.
It was midnight, toad cold,

And oh, I was desperate. Aching tired,
though tired is hardly the word
for the flaking, disintegrating state I was in.

If you don't shut up, I said,
I'll give you a smack. She didn't. I did.
Crack.

She wouldn't cry. There were no tears.
Instead she looked at me as if
I were her bitter foe. She said
Didn't hurt.

So I hit her again, only harder.
Still no tears. Her eyes stretched wide.
Didn't hurt, she cried.

Her little voice, so small, so tough
stopped my raised hand. Enough.
I saw the future, endless blows,
endless defiance down the years.
The hitting and hating, hands and words.

It hurt. I wept. I asked forgiveness, and she slept.

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