In the Winds

Poem of the Month
November 16, 2008, 2:36 pm
Filed under: Art, Lyrics, Recommend

First Reader by Billy Collins

I can see them standing politely on the wide pages

that I was still learning to turn,

Jane in a blue jumper, Dick with his crayon-brown hair,

playing with a ball or exploring the cosmos

of the backyard, unaware they are the first characters,

the boy and girl who began fiction.

Beyond the simple illustration of their neighborhood

the other protagonists were waiting in a huddle:

frightening Heathcliff, frightened Pip, Nick Adams

carrying a fishing rod, Emma Bovary riding into Rouen.

But I would read about the perfect boy and his sister

even before I would read about Adam and Eve, garden and gate,

and before I heard the name Gutenberg, the type

of their simple talk was moving into my focusing eyes.

It was always Saturday, and he and she

were always pointing at something and shouting, “Look!”

pointing at the dog, the bicycle, or at their father

as he pushed a hand mower over the lawn,

waving at aproned Mother framed in the kitchen doorway,

pointing toward the sky, pointing at each other.

They wanted us to look but we had looked already

and seen the shaded lawn, the wagon, the postman.

We had seen the dog, walked, watered, and fed the animal,

and now it was time to discover the infinite, clicking

permutations of the alphabet’s small and capital letters.

Alphabetical ourselves in the rows of classroom desks,

we were forgetting how to look, learning how to read.



2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

In regards to the illustration, I just don’t think Jane gets it!?

Comment by Darren Johnson

Yay for poems!

Comment by Kristina

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