Adult Literacy

Adult Literacy

by John S. O’Connor

The pencil grip told plenty:
Clenched fists held too far away
From the ink, the lead, the wax
(Some still used crayon). Most
Held their pens like knives slashing
The blades toward themselves,
As if they were ripping open
Christmas presents sealed with
Too much packing tape. When
They could not write their names,
I suggested they draw themselves,
Their homes. Their stick figure
Self-portraits were glass fragile:
Most had eyes, but no mouths, arms
But no hands, unable to grasp
The vacant landscape of an otherwise
Empty page. Their homes were tiny
Boxes with sloped sides — no doors,
No windows, no means of escape.

 

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