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Does He Limp? by Leonard S. Edgerly
published in Volume 2, Issue 3 on May 21, 1995

A girl in my fourth-grade class
moved away then came back and told
about her new school. When she came
to the name of her new principal
I joked from way back in the back row,
    "Does he limp?"

I knew immediately it wasn't funny-
a dumb, smart-kid comment
on the thick shoe and swinging left leg
of Mr. Madson, our principal, who limped
through the hollow halls of our school
like a circus act you didn't dare stare at
for fear he'd notice you watching that shoe,
that exaggerated rise and fall of his shoulder.

From way back in the back row I nearly threw up
after joking about the limp, about that shoe
unlike any fast sneaker we kids would race on out
onto the playground-and soon the whole world
where now about once a month I still feel
that same sickening rise from my stomach
when some careless word of mine snaps
me back to that fat black shoe
clumping along, minding its own business,
wondering if that boy ever forgave himself
for being so damn clever.

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