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Perimeter drainage…

December 2, 2010


like speech,

is an ancient,

preliterate craft…

We read the tracks and scat of animals,

the depth and lustre of their coats,

the set of their ears and the gait of their limbs…

We read the horns of sheep,

the teeth of horses…

We read the weights and measures of the wind,

the flight of birds,

the surface of the sea, snow, fossils, broken rocks,

the growth of shrubs and trees and lichens…

We also read of course,

the voices that we hear…

This is a serious kind of reading,

and it antedates all but the earliest,

most evolutionary form of writing,

which is the leaving of prints and traces:

the making of tracks…

— in A Story as Sharp as a Knife by Robert Bringhurst

As a teacher,

I walk,

and talk,

along the dotted line,

of what I feel to be true…

So far,

I haven’t seen the critical function,

of breathing,

in any provincial curriculum…

But the day will soon be upon us,

when due to skyrocketing,

health care costs,

that too will require mandating…

I am a public servant,

in every sense of the word…

And so I march,

left, right,

left, right,

across the page,

in my ninja suit,

for my people…

True learning,

is unlike the breath,

in that it cannot be contained,

or forced,

by sequenced activity,

and artificial respiration…

You can’t book it,


in between appointments,

like a slice of ham…

Learning marches to the beat,

of  its own,

perfectly hidden,


A mother with the very best of intentions,

for her children,

once took me aside,

near the end of the school year,

and said,

about her six year old,

and herself,

I’m pregnant,

and I want my son reading before the baby comes…

So what needs to happen here to move things along…

I’m willing to do whatever is necessary…



whatever it takes,

I’ve got the budget…

I raised an eyebrow,

in the shape of a question mark,

with added exclamation,

and said,

Your son IS reading,

just not on demand,

or under pressure…

And like Einstein,

he’ll read conventionally,

and fluently,

according to his own clock…

And while we follow his unfolding,

we make purposes,

and organizers explicit,

by externalizing our thought processes,

and proving the value and enjoyment,

of the printed word,

by reading what we love,

with him…

The beauty of individual wiring,

ensures the right blocks are in place,

until switches are ready for unlocking,

leading us to the next station,

on our unique journeys,

of differentiation…

This little boy’s father,

told me of his own perceived illiteracy,

and learning disabilities…

And how he’d felt,

as a failure,

in school…

He claimed he still couldn’t read…

So I outlined the counter-evidence…

I’d watched him reading maps,

and instructions,

for building,

model planes…

I’d seen his man cave,

set up,

in such a way,

that could get a Virgo higher,

than a kite,

as I took my class wandering,

through the neighbourhood,

looking for magic…

I also knew he was capable,

of reading deep,

because I’d witnessed him taking care of his children…

Bringing hot lunches,

on schedule,

and attempting to tame a cowlick or two,

by morning bell,

so’s to do what the wife’s list said,


And I knew,

he could see things,

from every angle,

all at once,

without even trying…

I told him it would take me about two hours,

to turn his I can’t read story right round,


and slow things,

down enough,

to stay focused on the two-dimensions,

of the written word…

He wondered what I’d be willing to wear,

if he agreed to go there…

I told him that in response to the standard,

of comfort being the new sexy,

a thong,

and pasties,

would be completely out,

of the question…

But what I would allow,

in order to get those sleepy synapses,

all fired up,

as I played doctor,

with his lobes and fissures,

was for him to call me Dixie,

and picture me in a nurse’s outfit,

during procedure only…

Followed by a codicil,

that if I ever woke up,

in the middle of the night,

from a dream,

where I was in a glass shower,

and he was shaking hands with Kojak,

there’d be quantum hell to pay…

The boy inside the man,

wanted to say no,

to the fine print,

but with those tiles,

clearly laid out,

on the Scrabble board,

agreement was made,

because he knew,

what was good for him,

and figured it was fair game…

The lessons,

never materialized,

while I was at my post,

because the timing wasn’t right…

But a couple of years later,

through the morphing of an invitation,

for milk,

and cookies,

into a larger social occasion,

and some lasagna,

I asked permission,

to bring my company,

along to his younger son’s hockey practice,

for the sake of my concussion research,

and the clearance of neural pathways

With two thumbs up,

as he backed his truck,

down the driveway,

and onto the road to Six Rinks,

with his boy in the jump seat,

reading hockey cards,

he reviewed the contents,

of his glove compartment,

“Wallet, watch, spectacles,

AND leash on…”

Waving a glowing cell phone,

his wife called out,

a single warning,

from the garage,

into the driver side window,

You can have one drink,

but you are NOT ALLOWED to touch her…

And despite steady pressure,

to go upstairs,

for havinaginantonic,

I kept the Zamboni,

and my professionalism,

firmly planted,

at ice level

Employing the use of,

interlocking signals,

to prevent derailment

and facilitate re-programming,

of I can’t into,

I will

When we returned,

to the cul-de-sac,

after the field trip,

I asked him how long,

we’d been gone,

according to daylight savings…

He checked his watch,

and said,

Two hours,

on the nose…

I said,


My guess is as good as yours,

that there’ll be no need for you to call me,

in the morning…

And no,

I never give out my numbers,

for  jackpots…

Not because I can’t,

but because I don’t want to…

A candle throws its light into the darkness…
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