“I am a cat.”
“I am not a rat.”
“The little fat cat sat on the fat rat.”
The fact that we can use language, especially written language, is a miracle. Period.
The poet Howard Nemerov, in his “September, the First Day of School,” described written language–“the alphabet, the integers”– as
Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff
So arbitrary, so peremptory,
That worlds invisible and visible
Bow down before it…
I’ve always loved that description, just as I love the poem.
This morning I watched as my oldest granddaughter, the subject of many of my writings, labored through some of the phrases I’d printed on a paper for her to read. She’s juuusst about got her letters and sounds down (that pesky b-d reversal, and for some reason h and k are giving her fits this week), and we’re working on sight words and consonant-vowel-consonant words.
But she’s doing it. She’s reading. She, like countless others before her, is learning to make meaning out of those squiggles covering a piece of paper.
She’s doing it.