If I had to look up every fifth or sixth word
so what. I looked them up.
I had nowhere important to be.
My father was unavailable, and my mother
looked like she was about to break,
and not into blossom, each time I spoke.
My favorite was The Iliad. True,
I had trouble pronouncing the names;
but when was I going to pronounce them, and
My stepfather maybe?
Number one, he could barely speak English -
two, he had sufficient cause
to smirk or attack
without prompting from me.
Loneliness boredom and fear
I get down on my knees and thank God for them.
Du Fu, the Psalms, Whitman, Rilke.
Life has taught me
to understand books.
A window onto the childhood of Franz Wright, who turned sixty last year and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for Walking to Martha's Vineyard. This poem appears in F, his newest collection.