New Poem “The Switch”

The Switch
by Rob Roper Jan 29, 2017

I used to think
I would never
be one of the prisoners
who dug his own grave
before being shot.

I would never
be one of those Jews
who meekly boarded the train
to the concentration camp
to be gassed.

No, not me!
I would have refused
to let them
degrade and humiliate me.
I would have said,
“Shoot me now, motherfucker!”
I would have died bravely
and with dignity.

But then I remembered.

“Get me a switch,”
my Mom would say
after I had committed
some infraction.
(It seemed like this happened everyday when I was little.)

I would have to go into the backyard
and break off a branch
from a row of bushes
that divided our property
from the next-door neighbor’s.

I would strip the twigs off the branch
leaving nubs
that made it hurt even more.

Since it was green
it was flexible
so it would wrap around my legs a little
when she struck.

I remember thinking
the one advantage I have
is that I get to choose the weapon
of my punishment.
I remember
trying to figure out
which is better:
a long or short branch?
smaller or bigger diameter?
But I never figured that out.
I resigned myself to the fact
that they would all hurt about the same.

I would bring my selection inside
hand it to Mom
bend over
and she would lash me across the back of my thighs
no doubt
all the while
chastising me for my crime
whatever it was
whatever awful crime
a six-year-old can commit.

So now I know.
I would dig my own grave
I would meekly board that train

Because, afterall
I got my own switch.

Didn’t I?

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