My Mother Taught Me

My mother taught me

reading is a kind of work

every paragraph

merits exertion.

“Absorb books-

difficult books.”

“Bring trouble.

Read ahead.”

“Speak, act, teach.”


I navigated

the untable path,

knowing more

than people want to see.

Isolation Journal Prompt #142: Select a text to erase. Study the page, and see what rises up.

(Thanks to “A Reading Life” and all of the other slicers who modeled this form.)

Original Text from Lab Girl, Hope Jahren (16)

My mother taught me that reading is a kind of work, and that every paragraph merits exertion, and in this way, I learned how to absorb difficult books. Soon after I went to kindergarten, however, I learned that reading difficult books also brings trouble. I was punished for reading ahead of the class, for being unwilling to speak and act “nicely.” I didn’t know why I simultaneously feared and adored my female teachers, but I did know that I needed their attention, positive or negative, at all times.Tiny but determined, I navigated the confusing and unstable path of being what you are while knowing that it’s more than people want to see.”

4 thoughts on “My Mother Taught Me

  1. I have yet to hear of this form, and I am instantly obsessed!! And I’m simply in love with how you’ve created yours! I just Googled it and think I found its origin? Anyway, I’m saving this for future use. Thank you SO much for sharing yours!


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