In “Precious Words,” a recent post, I shared the story of Earl Mills, who spent most of his life hiding his inability to read. In a huge act of will, over three years, he not only learned how to read, but also became a poet and published author. One of his poems:
Twenty Six Letters
by Earl Mills
Befuddled by the alphabet, fifty years old and can’t read yet.
Twenty–six letters have brought me such shame;
someone asked me to spell my name.
Another bulletin at work today, who can I ask – what does it say?
Grandpa, will you read this book to me?
I tell her the letters are too small to see.
I don’t have my glasses; I’m running late; I am victim to this lie I hate.
Cannot read – won’t tell a soul;
secret of my youth – now I am old.
Letter after letter I can’t figure out; frustration inside, a silent shout.
Twenty-six letters can raise so much hell;
their riddles to me they will not tell.
This secret stays locked within, but I will not let these letters win.