MAN WRITES BOOK ADMITTING ILLITERACY
He has hundreds of pages, a browned stack
thick as two dictionaries, cream and yellow
like baked philo dough, the edges crispy
and curled, on the shelf above his old TV.
He says, Some days I stare at it. I canít read.
I canít even read what I wrote, he says.
The reporter blinks and takes more notes.
Will my picture be in the paper? the man
wants to know. Yeah, the reporter says,
and asks to see the book. The man removes
it gingerly. He knows itís fragile, like bones
left in the sun to bake for years, the animals
and elements a constant threat to what is left.
In the end, everything is sure to blow away.
You can have it, he tells the reporter who looks
so young, younger than a person should ever be,
the man thinks. Itís dangerous to be too young,
he says, and gives his book to the reporter. Itís
dangerous to be old, he goes on. The reporter
nods as he thumbs through the pages eager
to see what is at the end. The dust suspended
in the air trembles in agitation, waiting to be
dispersed the minute someone opens the door.
It is only a matter of time. The man is relieved.
Laura McCullough holds an MFA in Writing and Literature from Goddard College. She has been a New Jersey State Arts Council Fellow, won a Geraldine R. Dodge Scholarship to attend the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and was the 2005 Prairie Schooner Merit Scholar in Poetry at the Nebraska Summer Writers Workshop. She attended the 2005 Bread Loaf writers conference as a contributor. She has published poems widely in literary magazines and journals such as Nimrod, Potion, Hotel Amerika, Gulf Coast, Stirring, Nightsun, Iron Horse Quarterly, Boulevard, The God Particle, Poetry East, Confluence, Exquisite Corpse, Word Riot, Tarpaulin Sky, and others. Her first collection of poems, The Dancing Bear, was published in February, 2006 by Open Book Press. She is a professor of writing at Brookdale Community College in NJ where she chairs the Visiting Writers Series.