Frank Maguire
Square "peg" in a little round world
By Frank Maguire
June 2, 2010

Frank Maguire © 1994 (Originally published in The Desert Shamrock, Phoenix/Scottsdale AZ)

Writers are told early and often to write that which they know. There is, then, some of the autobiographical in everything produced by the writer. Everyone has the unconscious desire to confess, and no less, the writer. Did I know "Peg?" I've asked myself this question often, and when I do the same sweet face appears to me as clearly as if she were standing before me.

The sweet, petite, quiet, and artistic young lady was not red of hair, nor did she have freckles. This is merely the license afforded the writer/poet. And most of the poem is fictitious. But when I think of a very sweet girl who sat in the same classroom as I, at St. Matthew's School in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the same vision comes to me.

You all know how it goes. Very likely each of you remembers back to your early, school years and a "special" face is recalled. Like an eternal friend, they are always with you.
(f.m., 2010)

There sat in my classroom at Maple Street School a plain little red-headed girl.
She sat in row one, in the very first seat, and her name was Margaret Berle.
Miss Brown called her Margaret, her friends called her "Peg" and the hooligans "Maggie!" would bray.

But she answered to all, and with never a sign that she wished they would just go away.
With an "A" in deportment, and in effort, an "A," she gave all her studies her best.
But everyone knew, as she herself did, that she wasn't as bright as the rest.

With not a complaint, no harsh angry word, she labored from first bell to last;
Though often outsmarted, and often outscored, I can say she was never outclassed.
When she stood to recite, her eyes were alight, her voice like melodious song.
Then she'd sit, self assured, with no sign of defeat, when teacher said "Sorry, that's wrong!"
She would lean o'er her pad, and with pencil in hand, she would write, to turn error to gain,
While the critics would snicker, their faces concealed, in the hope they would cause her some pain.

But she never took note, and she never took aim, and she never repaid them in kind.
She would smile her sweet smile, forgive and forget, for hate never entered her mind.
And the very few times when I saw her look hurt, when I saw her sweet face show disdain,
Was when others were laughed at, belittled or mocked...when others were suffering pain.
The years came and went, as we passed through the grades, graduation just one year away.
And all that would change was her place in row one, when her "B" was displaced by an "A."

Still bright red of hair, and freckled of face, eyes of blue and a heart of pure gold,
It was plain she'd been blessed with a grace which foretold of a love that would never grow cold.
When the day finally came, with diplomas dispensed, I gathered my courage to try,
And I went to sweet Margaret, and spoke but five words, now I constantly ask myself "Why?
And she smiled up at me, stood up on her toes, and gently she kissed my cheek.
"I wish that you would" was all that she said; in a lifetime, it's all we would speak.

For the next time I heard of sweet, gentle "Peg" was that both of her parents had died;
That she'd dropped out of school, as the oldest of eight, it fell upon her to provide.
Sixty years now have gone, and I read in the news, Margaret Berle's life had come to its end,
My little Square "Peg" in a little round world, my redheaded, freckle faced...friend.

© Frank Maguire


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Frank Maguire

(Frank Maguire passed away on May 19, 2021. His obituary can be read here.

Frank Maguire was born in Dorchester, MA, 1938, attended schools in Massachusetts, California, and Arizona, where he completed degrees in music and English writing/Journalism. Frank has been married to Helen Isabel Maguire Estevez of Culver City, California, since 1957. They have six children, 14 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren.


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