Reading is difficult

by Julia Head

R eh ah duh ing
Ree add ing
Reading has always been difficult for me.
I will read one sentence then
I will read one sentence then
I will read, wait I’ve just read this
I repeat.
Not because it’s particularly interesting but because that’s what happens doesn’t it?

I get lost.
I forget.
Because who came up with putting words in lines that move left to right
Top to
Bottom?
Words should flow.
Round in long spirals from in to out as the meaning grows greater
Or cascade down the page creating a crater

Why are the words put in patterns miss? I thought stories were free?
I thought stories could be absolutely anything they wanted to be?
Because they are.
Stop asking questions.
Stay focused on the task.

So
I start again.
R eh ah duh ing
Ree add ing
Reading is difficult for me.

Then there’s the letters.
A B C D E F G H I J K LMNOP
But letters put with letters make different sounds that make words.
What fools make a language that speaks different to its words?

The fools that had language before there were words
The fools that had sounds and pictures and stories that were heard

The fools that then needed to keep stories the same.
To make sure they didn’t change.
To put the free stories in letters and lines on a page, going from left to right
Top to
Bottom.
The fools that still teach their infants in pictures
But get told they’re ‘too old’ to read a picture book themselves.

Can’t I just read pictures?
I’m really good at reading pictures.
Like that knight over there with the frizzy brown hair
He’s scared to go fight and the King he does care
But he’s been told that it’s right.
That his only Prince must go and fight.
So the king does
What’s expected.
See?
I can read pictures. Better than you.

‘Just sound out each letter.’
‘I promise Julia, you will get better.’

It’s like running a marathon
And you’re on the home run
And you’re exhausted and sweaty
And you look back at the track at just how far you’ve come
But you,
You haven’t even started.

‘Just sound out each letter.’
‘I promise Julia, you will get better.’
But even when I can read the word
Even when I master the sentence
And finish the paragraph
And reach the end of the page
I still can’t answer your question
‘What happened?’

My teacher laughs, ‘come on you’ve just read it, don’t be so daft. I heard you say the words
Just try really hard’.
I am trying.
Trying so hard to sound out each letter
To focus on making the words stay still
To make sure I don’t repeat every
To make sure I don’t repeat every,
Every line.
So that somehow, someway, like you said
I’d get better.
So no, I didn’t remember every word that passed my lips
No, I didn’t focus on the meaning of every sentence
I just made it sound good.
So that you’d think I understood.
So that maybe you’d let me stop r eh ah duh ing
Ree add ing
Reading.