Miscue Analysis

A poem by Professor Jennifer Martin

Why is this so difficult for you,

my sweet seven-year-old?

Why can’t you step into books

like your brother and sister

and get lost for hours?

(Comparison: A parent’s dirty secret.)

What is holding you back?


Why is b still d, and d still b,

even though your father and I have

made bed posts and pillows out of our fingers

for you to learn the difference?


And why don’t you know the long and short of

A – E – I – O and U (and sometimes Y)?

It’s they, not tree; bite, not bit.

It’s deciding to eat a healthy cereal

at night with a juicy orange.


Don’t you want to go inside the Magic Treehouse

to meet Junie B. Jones and Captain Underpants?

By the end of first grade, all your friends

are already there.


I try to imagine the inside of your skull,

what your brain looks like.

Does it light up in all the right places?

Are there any dark corners?

Did I damage it when I carried you inside of me?


I want to give you a piece of my brain.

I want to push it in your ear or up your nose

to make letters shout their sounds,

“T” – ta – ta – ta, “Ph” – fa – fa – fa,

so you don’t have to struggle any longer.

It’s fantastic and phone, and so very tough.



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