The Correction

When I got it wrong at school—missed
a word, could not recite
the long division tables—I would lock
my knees beneath my little plywood desk
in back where all the tall ones sat,
and sneak my uniform sleeve up
and bite down on my forearm, make myself
keep quiet, doing that, not
crying; gnashing hard with my gapped teeth
until the dotted "O" sunk in
because I couldn’t hold my breath,
so had to clench my skin while no sobs flayed
my lungs: those lightless rooms
where loud girls kept themselves,
and stayed unsorry.

Copyright © 2005 Frannie Lindsay. From Where She Always Was. Used with permission of Utah State University Press.