Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Pact

We played dolls in that house where Father staggered with the
Thanksgiving knife, where Mother wept at noon into her one ounce of
cottage cheese, praying for the strength not to
kill herself. We kneeled over the
rubber bodies, gave them baths
carefully, scrubbed their little
orange hands, wrapped them up tight,
said goodnight, never spoke of the
woman like a gaping wound
weeping on the stairs, the man like a stuck
buffalo, baffled, stunned, dragging
arrows in his side. As if we had made a
pact of silence and safety, we kneeled and
dressed those tiny torsos with their elegant
belly-buttons and minuscule holes
high on the buttock to pee through and all that
darkness in their open mouths, so that I
have not been able to forgive you for giving your
daughter away, letting her go at
eight as if you took Molly Ann or
Tiny Tears and held her head
under the water in the bathinette
until no bubbles rose, or threw her
dark rosy body on the fire that
burned in that house where you and I
barely survived, sister, where we
swore to be protectors.     

-Sharon Olds

This poem speaks about Olds' own sad childhood. Her parents weren't there for her and her sister, so they only had each other. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother thought the only means of escape was suicide. Her father, when he got drunk, often directed the anger towards the mother. With no mother or father taking care of them, the sisters rely on each other. The sisters make a pact between each other to never treat their own children this horribly. Both of them take of their as if they were the sisters' own children. The sisters will not only protect each other, but the dolls as well that they see as their children. Olds poem gives a personal view about having a dysfunctional family. It is a personal recount of her childhood. Olds was just lucky enough to have someone else there with her. They must have relied heavily on each other and this must have made their sibling bond stronger. No one should have to be in such a negative environment. but to have not even one good thing must be even harder to deal with.

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