My Parents Read

His hands placed on the upper corners of the book
as if to massage a neck, but quiet, peaceful,
two oars unstirred by wake and roil,
head bent over the text not as if reading
but examining each letter, eyes in steady search
rolling over alphabets like a stone-hound
Looks through sandstone for fossil imprints.

She wore books on her hands
the way some wear gloves,
removing her ring as she read
as if she became another person in the words,
no longer sentenced to a life term.
Pages turned with reluctant tenderness,
reminding me how a child is raised
and held in the breaths of a mother
and slowly transpired into the world.

—Jeff Burt, Mount Hermon, CA