Wednesday, October 9, 2013

To know the words in the books

This is a poem inspired by my 3-year-old nephew, Ross.  He's just beginning to learn his letters after announcing to his mom, "I don't know the words in the books like you and dad."  That line really moved me, so I wrote the following.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Synapses form in the child's brain -
connections of how and why and when
and where things work.
The codex marvels his months-old mind -
flipping pages, imbibing color, revealing
knowledge and narrative.
Growing older, learning the words,
hearing the stories now, and imploring,
"Read it again."
Older still, he realizes when "grown ups"
open the book, they see more than
shapes and symbols.
The child knows, implicitly - even if
inarticulately - that to some the book
offers impartation.
Seeking the gift, he whispers, "Mom,
I don't know the words in the books
like you and dad ."
So, he discovers another level of learning
Sensory of the mind, not of the fingers
or nose or tongue.
He begins the distinctly human process
of extracting meaning from symbols
and sounds from shapes.
The pain and frustration and delight of
learning become milestones on his quest
to possess this gift.
This precious boy, just setting out on
the road of language and learning
makes me marvel.
For like the little boy, I am seeking
to "know the words in the books,"
to extract the meaning.
He reminds me of the gift, of my
gratitude and of my hope to share
this impartation.