In Print

I don’t want you to learn to read. Not yet. Not fair.
But you love magnetic letters on the fridge.
Why did I put them there?

D for Daddy. Straight back. Sticky out puku. Like that.
M is Mummy: up down up down. Breasts.
G is Grandma, sitting, with a lap.

We share stories, told in the dark, from the heart.
Giants, trolls, wolves and slippy slidey snakes
And lots and lots of everlasting chocolate icing birthday cake.

Ah you, just two, fresh from the balloons and face paint,
Be in no hurry to see the world through a locust storm of writing.
Else you may spend your childhood keeping Thomas on the track
Left to right, pulling wobbling words behind him. Cat. Sat. Mat.

When you are a student, remembering a Monarch butterfly
Tapping his Fred Astaire legs, curious with his antennae,
Polka dot thorax pulsing, rumpled wings hanging,
And then the smoothing out into a fully spread sail
And the flying away, a flame in the blue –

Please don’t remember this in the exam room abyss
As printed facts on the screen inside your head, and with a worry headache
Caused by the spelling of ‘chrysalis.’

As a worker, don’t see the world through the eyes of lumbering oxen
Ploughing, left to right, right to left, or boustrophedon,
Seeing only what is next, one thing after another,
Digging a deeper and deeper furrow till you can’t see
Over the sides and into the mists beyond the muddy field.

And if you grow old, be not like a life-long gondolier
Who has only ever seen the world go by from his boat
Back and forth on the sluggish shallow river that is his home,
And who can no longer stretch out his curled fingers
And flatten them to touch the ground.

Drown your book. Look around you.
Try to see a red wheelbarrow, or plums in the fridge
Without seeing them in print.
It is too late for me.


2 thoughts on “In Print

  1. Can’t seem to find a place to leave a comment about Toddler Country but want to say how true it rings! Our Jack is two-and-a-quarter – and a Thomas fan.

    1. Anne, hello. I am not surprsed you can’t comment on Toddler Country. I have great difficulty getting any poems to ‘stick’ to the blog. That one seems not to be there now when I go to checkit. Ah well. I will try again. But yes: I’m loving the language of the 2 year old. Yesterday T was showing his crane to a guy. Grane, says T Ah ha, says the man. Hook, says T. Ah ha, says the man. Stabilisers, says T, pointing to the stabilisers. The guy nearly falls off his ladder. True!

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