The Children's Hour
by Steven Owen Shields

I do not remember when it happened.
I was so young, the pain was so intense.
But I’m sure I screamed.  And later on, I opened
the bandage to see it.  I’m sure it made me wince.

I was running through the house, afraid of witches.
I’d seen them somehow, pentagrams and charms,
following me—waiting for me—their clutches
from the closet doors—one of them had me by the arms!

And so I ran, but as I did, I tripped,
flung out an arm and fell on the end
of a faulty floor furnace.  And its fire shaped
a cross upon the back of my left hand.

Branded, I still have that cross today.
The witches?  Oh, they must have
                                                            slipped away.

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