Thursday, October 25, 2007

Semi-Literate by Joyce Sutphen

Once I had no sense of the alphabet's
Song, of its long train that wound along
The top of the chalkboard in the schoolroom.

I was anxious about little pairs of letters
That seemed to hold hands and go off into
The woods together: c and d; e and...

F(that’s right!); h and I (hi!); j and k.
And then there was the caterpillar of
l-m-n-o-p. What could that be?

I was sure it meant something, something
Important, but I’ve never met one yet.
Q-r-s was curious, that was certain,

T-u-v I liked because it reminded
Me of a little cabin by a lake
Where waves crashed on rocks all night. W.

Was that only one letter? One piece
Of the alphabet? Or did it come apart
To make another u and v? X, oh

Yes—that one made sense, but Y didn’t
Sound the way it looked, and when you asked
"Why?" that wasn’t it, but z was something

I could love: a little striped horse, gazing
Out the window, longing to go home.

1 comment:

  1. Love this poem. Reminds me of the beginning of my own long love affair with the English language.