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Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950). Spoon River Anthology. 1916.

37. Johnnie Sayre

FATHER, thou canst never know

The anguish that smote my heart

For my disobedience, the moment I felt

The remorseless wheel of the engine

Sink into the crying flesh of my leg.

As they carried me to the home of widow Morris

I could see the school-house in the valley

To which I played truant to steal rides upon the trains.

I prayed to live until I could ask your forgiveness—

And then your tears, your broken words of comfort!

From the solace of that hour I have gained infinite happiness.

Thou wert wise to chisel for me:

“Taken from the evil to come.”