The student shifts in his seat, trying to think of a time he overcame. You see, it’s high school, we are all overcoming each day, both trapped in this in between. He starts, “There was this time I was uncuntable with failure.” The assignment was impossible except it was possible. Many students were able to create the Pringle ring without glue.
I was 11 when my best friend’s father started calling me scarecrow. He was intimidating, a large gourd of a father, always adjusting his enormous jeans. I never answered back. I understood the insult. I was uncomfortable with developing so young. I wore flannel shirts, sweatpants, allowed my brother’s ex to cut my hair into a 70s shag.
He began to scream, stop his feet. I took him outside. Told him to take a walk to the fountain, wash his face. What is before you will always be hard; if it wasn’t there is no overcoming.
It was a photo, of an old- haggard-women from a fairytale. The boy everyone loved held the photo in his hand and laughed out loud saying my name over and over.
What do we learn from cruelty?
He continues, “I realized that my anger wasn’t helping.” You see the tenuous nature of the sculpture needed a steady hand. Doubting the ability to create the perfect sphere caused it to fall.
When I was 13 one of the fathers called me Lolita. Was this better than scarecrow? Why were the other adults laughing? He never liked me, he said. Never trusted me. I still dream about his stare. I hated him with all of my adolescent self.
“After I calmed down I tried again to create the shape.” What seemed so easy for others. His sculpture still fell but he held it in.
A time when I was uncuntable: no one new I was wrecked.
Mary Lou Buschi’s poems have appeared in Thimble, Willow Springs, Thrush, The Laurel Review, among others. She has one full-length collection, Awful Baby, published through Red Paint Hill and three chapbooks.