Sounding it out

Marlena Chertock

I pulled “It’s Not Your Fault,
Koko Bear” off the white bookshelf
in the hallway outside,
where we left the light on
because we got scared when we woke up
and it was still night.

Mom had night school.
She brought books from the library
and I read them to my sister,
my fingers trying to trace the texture of the words
but they were printed on smooth.

I slowly sounded out “j-oint cust-o-de”
but didn’t really understand,
the sounds hard to form in my mouth.


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