The First Bird of Dyslexia

by Philip Burton

Morning has Broken, said the hymn
like the first morning; and (for me)
was unreadable even when pounded
out with heavy hammers
mor- / -ning / has / bro- / -ken

Teacher would perform the trick
of lifting a sound and a sherbet lemon
from a high shelf – mor, he would say –
cracking the sweet with his teeth
now you, now you…
                                  – ning he would say
now you, now you, NOW YOU…

Each bit spoke for itself, I was told;
he showed his tongue and sweet fragments.
MOR- crack! -NING / HAS / BRO- crack! -KEN
a spine-touching nosedive of sound
scattering hanks of itself on the road outside.
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
okay, but my spoke had a missing bicycle.

Nothing screamed from the page;
even when scratched by an adult fingernail
mor- couldn’t talk, -ning had no bell.
I couldn’t conceive of them leaping through eyes
into the brain, and out of the throat.

I hosted a dream of shapes and cyphers
that whispered, sneezed, clanged and blared
but none of them had any name, or if they did,
it constantly broke, broke again
like the first morning.

When told I was lazy or dull,
springing fresh from the Word
I perched my face on the loops and ascenders
of the wrought iron gate of the school
till morning mended.