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THE FACE IN THE KNOTHOLE

 

  A face in the knothole called to me,

   I, who was eight and was very small,

   “Come here, Carole, to the board,” said he.

   Too trusting, I left the monkey bars

   And walked toward doom at the backstop board.


   Stick your arm in the hole, I was told,

   I, who was eight and was very small;

   I, who always did as I was told,

   Even by the bully, Jimmy Brown—

   The bully at beloved Venice School.


   Doing as told, he grasped my right arm,

   I, who was eight and was very small.

   As Jimmy pulled, I cried in alarm;

   Then the twisting began, and I screamed.

   The pain was too great for me to bear.


   Mrs. Edwards soon came to my aid,

   I who was eight and was very small.   

  And Jimmy Brown did as he was bade.

   But my arm sustained terrible pain—

   Unrelenting pain for weeks to come.


   The child Carole, grown to womanhood,

   Was no longer eight and very small.

   A tumor grew, and I understood

   The point of impact of long ago

   Was the point where the tumor had grown.

   I came to understand, though I

   Was no longer eight and very small,

   When the surgeon asked if it could be

   That I was injured there long ago—

   Perhaps long, long ago, when a child.


   The bully Jimmy Brown came to mind.

   Though no longer eight and very small,  

   I recalled the boy who was unkind,

   He whose delight was inflicting pain.   

  And I am sure that he was the cause.

                   —Carole Emma Mathewson