At Margaret's House in Yatamoco

Something in the boy's eyes had burned long ago.

This line not only is an intriquing opening line but alludes to the fire that is to follow. Patricia Schlutt, age 15.
Yes, foreshadowing the burning of his toe. Rachel McGuinness, age 17

His skin dried to ash, his neck, tree-bark gray, tightened its cords.

I envision someone who has experienced a lot in life in a very short time, the grayness of his body hints at being aged but we know that he is just a boy. Rachel McGuinness, age 17

 

I love how the poet refers in the line below to the brother and how not being old enough to believe in gravity makes, at once, so much sense. Patricia Schlutt, age 15

His brother, not yet old enough to believe in gravity,

A beautiful line conveying the innocence that leads to pain. Rachel McGuinness, age 17

had held the rock above his head, thinking, perhaps,
 
it might lift him like those birds that build their nests
in the furthest reaches of eucalyptus trees,
 
that carry heavy clots of mud and leaves up into sky.

I had thoughts like this when I was younger too, the poet's ability to think as a child adds an element to this poem that brings it to the next level. Rachel McGuinness, age 17

But, instead, it fell and crushed his brother's toes.
 

I like the simile below. Lent is 40 days long and he lives with the pain for a prolonged period of time, also Lent is a time to fast and be forgiven of sins which is alluded to later in this poem as well. Rachel McGuinness, age 17

The big toe, bruised purple as Lent, pained him all night.

"Purple as Lent" is a new and biblical way to introduce the tree. Patricia Schlutt, age 15

By morning, the nail bed festered, dirt and dried blood caked in pus.
 
His parents dipped a rag in kerosene, wrapped it

This doesn't make much sense to me, but it's a startling image! Patricia Schlutt, age 15

around the toe, set it on fire. His screams muffled the morning
 

These lines amplify the silence in between exclamations of his pain. Particia Schlutt, age 15

swell of birdsong, silenced dogs that bark behind the plaza.
He came to us sullen, head bowed, the toe black and crusted.
 

The author captures his humiliation perfectly, he does not want help only a blessing. Rachel McGuinness, age 17

He did not want a doctor, only a blessing, some holy water,
a few prayers. But we took him to the hospital where
 
they cleaned and dressed the wound. In that village,
many people hobbled on ill-formed feet. Some even wore
 

I love in the line below how the the pieces of skin where digits had been are now seen as badges. Patricia Schlutt, age 15

a shiny badge of smooth, taut skin where fingers and toes
had been. These, they said, had known fire and been blessed.

Intriguing how fire begins and ends the poem. Patricia Schlutt, age 15
I love this poem so much, it may be my favorite poem that she has written. She captures the culture and emotions of the people so profoundly and accurately I am amazed every time I read this. Rachel McGuinness, age 17
Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.