I Can’t Read.

November 16, 2014



like cookies

in Christmas tins

frosted, powdered, fruit-oozed…

. . . .

old school primers

rescued from deep disposal bins

grateful strays

. . . .

flat, shimmering, leopard-spined


from the rack

in Kline’s Clothing Store

on Parade Street


fondly firm


to the clamor

for “just one more”

to read in the car home

next to the bag of panties

and ankle socks

then, silently,

in church worship

accompanied by raisins.

. . . .

The prize

at the Sunday School Program

on New Year’s Eve

after the box of hard candy

chocolate mint drops

and the navel orange

a selected novelette

purchased at the Erie Bible Truth Depot

on West 11th

behind Padden’s Paints.

. . . .

Clifford, the Big Red Dog

Harold, and the Purple Crayon


The Five Chinese Brothers

skull cap tails

floating off with the tide

. . . .

Then, shiny Trixie Belden

and smoothe Nancy Drew

and, oh

the Lincoln School library shelves’

crackling acetate protectors

and graphite-stained

card pockets

The Adventures of Pippie Longstocking

and Charlotte’s Web.

. . . .

Grace Livingston Hill romances

Elsie Dinsmore, same.

Smelly, old, turn-of-the-century relics

loaned every Sunday

by Elsie

before she died

. . . .

Junior high school

One stand-out, Seventeen

The House of the Seven Gables, Jane Eyre,

The Count of Monte Christo

Wuthering Heights;

Rifles for Watie,

The Agony and

the Ecstasy


East of Eden

tantalizing revisitations

a wonder

on my back in bed.

. . . .

last chapter, closed

my world, opened

better than what really happened

every day


the purchase

of a television

and, something about Mom

wanting to see how Jed Allen looked

in the light

. . . .

Now, the book grows hot in my hands

Its tones

a gentle reprimand:

“What are you doing, here?”

“Put me down, dear.”

“I am not your own.”


and write.”





© Ruth Ann Scanzillo


all rights reserved. Thank you.

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