Childhood Demons by Amber Koneval

Today, she pushed back.

I’m not sure why she did it,
or where it came from
but she pushed me.

She pushed me down a ditch
without even saying a word
no shouting, no screaming
as I fell, head over heels
down the ditch.

Weird little freak
always sitting in the backrow with her books
and her constant chatter
never stopping
she ran on all fours at recess
growled like a tiger, and chomped on weeds
she let her hair grow wild
and after the twin towers fell she tried
to dig a bomb shelter in the sandbox
like she could protect us.

She pushed me down a ditch
and when I ran back up the hill
I kicked her in the shins
and she pushed me back down
and shouted ‘Stay there’.

She was big, and loud
taller than all the other girls
and when you looked at her
she’d stare at the ground
and talk about the worlds inside her
head like you could touch them.
She was friend with the Peterson kid
who played with himself in class
and the teachers hated her for answering
questions they had never asked.
She sang with a voice deep and low
the voice of a woman-
it sounded terrifying.

She pushed me down a ditch
for the second time
and though I’d hit my eye on a
patch of ice and
I’d cut my arm and was bleeding
I came back up swinging,
palms out,
aiming for that too-full head of hers

So that I could knock the pity right out
of her face
she shouted ‘Stay down’
and I swung
hitting arms thick
from pressing down our hatred
and I swung
for the mouth that smiled even though
no one ever had a present for her
at the class parties
and I swung
as I wondered if I’d ever realized
just how delicate she was
standing firm, matching blow for blow
her face never once moving
I just wanted her to move

but she just kept hitting
striking with the heel of her hand
as if she could stamp me
as if sheer will could break me
she struck, struck, struck
at my hands, neck, head
steady, serious and constant
still swinging as the coach
grabbed her by the arm
and told her that this was
how you played capture the flag

and he saw me push Kirsten
in the ditch
and watched with pity as Amber
burst into tears
her knuckles and palms
bright red from contact
she was crying because they stung

because today, she pushed back-
and that was unforgiveable.


Written for an interesting prompt given by the president of my campus’ poetry club: Write a poem about your childhood from the eyes of one of your childhood bullies. Thought it would be a fun prompt/response to share.


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