Learning To Read
by Franz Wright
If I had to look up every fifth or sixth word,
so what. I looked them up.
I had nowhere important to be.
My father was unavailable, and my mother
looked like she was about to break,
and not into blossom, every time I spoke.
My favorite was the Iliad. True,
I had trouble pronouncing the names,
but when was I going to pronounce them, and
My stepfather maybe?
Number one, he could barely speak English;
two, he had sufficient intent
to smirk or knock me down
without any prompting from me.
Loneliness, boredom and terror
I get down on my knees and thank God for them.
Du Fu, the Psalms, Whitman, Rilke.
Life has taught me
to understand books.