parents

THE FAULT IN THE GRAMMAR

 

(scroll down for YouTube video)

 

I’m devoted to manipulating

Or at least changing

Ridiculous parts of

The English language

Traumatized when barely 10 years old

Not even 5 feet

Petite

Asking my teacher

“Can I help with…?”

She

Towering over me

Valkyrie metal breastplate

Surely hidden beneath her

Teacherly folds of pre-60s

Color and fabric

“CAN YOU? CAN YOU? CAN YOU?”

She growing in stature

Me shrinking into chalky

Classroom floorboards

Classmates snickering

As I desperately tried

Deciphering why

She sneered

Me struggling with first generation English

With autism, before it was labeled

At home, asked Dad

He knew 5 languages

Could do the NY Times Crossword

Without a dictionary

Emigrated to the US at age 10

Quitting school at 17 to fight in WWII

He clueless, too

Mom, born 1929

Proudly saying she was depressed

Because born in the year of the Great Depression

She wrote little poems suitable for greeting cards

But never tried to publish them

No clue

But In her way, accusing

“What did you do???” she demanded

“Mrs. Donahue was my teacher too.

A good teacher!”

All of us clueless re cryptic

“CAN YOU? CAN YOU? CAN YOU?”

Next day a classmate took pity on me

I hate pity but grateful, this once

“May I?  is what you say,” said he

“Not CAN I.”

What? How’d I miss that?

On the day teachers said

“Today’s lesson is Grammar”

Did I think they meant “Hammer”

And chose to compose poems in my mind

Instead of listening to a lecture on tools?

It was finally nice to grow up

Into a fu*k you hippie

It was finally nice to major in English

And know the rules, but ignore them

I therefore NEVER say “MAY I?”

Only “CAN I?”

Traumatized by a word?

Perhaps

It shows in my poetry

That I call “not-poetry”

And oh, best of all,

I wear my own breastplate now…

 

© 2016 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

IMAGE: Valkyrie by the bastardson, deviantart

 

YouTube video: Richard Wagner, Ride of the Valkyries https://youtu.be/P73Z6291Pt8