Posts Tagged ‘literacy’




The day is quiet and

the light is strong and I sit alone

in the V of the weeping willow


in a place where the sun can’t reach me

and no one can see me.

I pull off the bark in thick rough slabs,


and the day is drowsy and the light

is long and the bark feels rough

in my four-year-old hands,


but I flip it and find it is smooth

underneath where it touches the tree.

Yes, the bark is smooth, like my dress,


like me, and I move my fingers across

the soft side, surprised by the secret writings there—

meandering marks that slither and wriggle


in cursive spells, some language only

the tree can tell, that only I can read.

And the day is page and the light


is song and I am not at all alone,

perhaps there is writing inside me, too,

the bark thrilling in my hands.


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By page twenty, things
have not gotten better.
Vivian clenches into my ribs.
She does not seem to breath,
as if her silence might help
the young boy with the two
evil aunts who beat him,
rebuke him, and lock him up.
Finn, curled into my other side,
twists at the hem of his blue and gray
flannel pajamas and fidgets
with a pillow’s edge. We are all
hoping for something miraculous
to happen, and soon. Something wonderful.
Something to stop all this
sinking we’re feeling. By page twenty-six,
things are still not better
and it is long past bedtime
and I cannot stop reading
until there is something brighter
to end the night. I can feel in this
chapter of dulled hatchets
and threats, how I want to offer
my boy and my girl
not just happily ever after,
but happily now. Though I also feel
how even this now, with the boy in the book
tripping and spilling all of his magic
into the ground and the aunts hurling “wretched” at him,
and “miserable” and “twerp,”
there is something here more than
happy, something that straddles
real and unreal, the three of us curled so closely
into each other, so warm and still
trembling at the edge of despair.
It is like that feeling of falling
right before sleep, and you don’t know
where you will land, or when,
are you really falling? could it hurt?
only this time we’re falling together.

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Despite the fact
I know what comes
next, despite the fact
I have turned
this page before,
despite the fact
that I tell myself
I will not cry, I will
not cry, despite
the past dragged
up into this moment
like a featherless bird,
despite the sunlight
stretching across
the morning floor,
despite the whisper
that says it’s creepy,
and despite the fact
that it’s not my name,
not my story, not
my song running
so soon out of notes,
I still cry every time I read
those words again,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.

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