57. In School: Reading the Reader

Incorrect means ‘not correct.’
Irregular–‘not regular.’
Improper means ‘not proper.'”

James turned through his reader
With a sigh. “Write a Story
For This Picture.” Pilgrim
In gray uniform, with gun.
In a long red cloak,
His wife stood by.
Pretty cape, James thought:
Red thick as candy
Melted to the page.

Out of doors, sand
Scraped the windows, walls,
Grating as fine gravel
On a slate.
On his dusty desktop,
He made marks,
At first idle,
Then the number 1.
Seconds later,
It was covered, gone.
He wrote 2,
And watched it fade in dust.
He flipped through:

Good Citizens.
Many citizens and patriots
Helped our country win the war.
Are you good school-citizens?
How do good citizens
Conduct themselves:
1. Before a crowded ticket window.”
          Like the Rex, James thought–
“2. In a Pullman sleeper.”
          Where?
“3. On a hunt for sparrows.”
          Matthew Hines.

Matthew had a gun.
His dad had bought it.
Now Matt had asked James
To come along.
“To get birds.”
James ran fingers
Through his tangled hair,
As Tom did
Whenever bills fell due.
Trouble was–he tried
To name the trouble–Matt
Had never watched a bird
Up near. How their claws
Dug clenched into the twig.
How their heads would angle,
Scouting hawks–
How feathers overlaid
The rapid heart.
James now drew a 90.
It remained.
Then 91.
The storm was winding down.

Correct Usage: May, Can.
1. May I go?
          I am allowed to go?
2. I can read.
          May I read this book?
3. I can tell this story.
          May I tell it?
          Yes, if you can,
          You may.”

James drew one-hundred-one,
Biting on his lip,
And shut his book.

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