Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ode to Letters

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ode to Letters

Article excerpt

... Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs ...

- Whitman

I loved them, those letters, from the start.

The pull-down slant of each side and cross bar

to make the A, first letter of the alphabet andmy name.

Later the cursive swoops and sweeps across ruled paper,

letters practiced with force and precision in workbooks

under drawings of ant-apple-alligator-angel,

held in a claw clasp of fingers that calloused

gripping fat blue Ticonderogas.

I even came to love the alphabet's final one,

first letter of my last name, the way Z

zigzagged across tracing guides, left to right,

downward left slant, left-right again,

even if it was the letter that sentenced me

to the end of rows and lines, excluded me

from spelling bees I could have easily won

with zero-zipper-zebra-zesty-zoo.

Twenty-six letters, their forty sounds,

I cherished them all, caught inside

the pangram we would write and rewrite

and recite: The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog. …

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