Saturday, April 24, 2010

Is There A Reader In The House?

I'm not trying to tell teachers news about their children - how could there be any news they don't know? - but, being asked, I could report something about children that was news to me. They don't read. The way I found out was their invariable response to my invariable response to a question asked me as a writer about the best way to learn to write. "Read," I replied. To which they replied, "Read?" They were incredulous that reading had anything to do with it. And the implication was that if it had, then that was just too high a price to pay.

- Eudora Welty, Is There A Reader In The House? (1955)


The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December. Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge. I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing
Before a drugstore. We
Entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleachers,
And asked what she wanted -
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth. I fingered
A nickle in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn't say anything.
I took the nickle from
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter. When I looked up,
The lady's eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was all

A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl's hand
In mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

- Gary Soto

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A half shoulder soaked through

from Ha Jin's book of short stories, A Good Fall:

"He remembered that when he was taking the entrance exam fourteen years back, his parents had stood in the rain under a shared umbrella, waiting for him with a lunch tin, sodas, and tangerines wrapped in a handkerchief. They each had half a shoulder soaked through. Oh, never could he forget their anxious faces. A surge of gratitude drove him to the brink of tears. If only he could speak freely to them again."

- In The Crossfire, Ha Jin

Song of the Wind

I heard this one a few weeks ago and haven't been able to shake it off.


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