November 22, 2013

"Teaching J to Read" by Ashley Jones


I don’t know how to begin,
how to explain that A means A,
that B isn’t Beaver
but simply B,
the second drawing
in a series of twenty-six.

He is in the fifth grade
and he can’t read about Dick or Jane.
He spends his days
finding new places to hide—
in between book chapters, scraping ink;
at the end of a punchline;
on the lip of a carton of milk.

I am useless, like an after-school special—
here, there is no purple dinosaur,
no sparkle in our smiles,
no bell-toned music to montage this away.

He finds pig in big
and the way a fist can solve these things.

He loses his name
in the sprawling alphabet—
the surest letter is the first: J.
This is the dark curve
that marks him,
and, even now,
I can’t remember the letters
that follow.

Ashley M. Jones is now in her second year at FIU, where she is a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fellow in Poetry. She is originally from Birmingham, Alabama, and her poetry has been published in Aura Literary Arts Review, Sanctuary Literary Magazine, and the Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy.


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