“Alphabets Are Like Cows in Sunlight” by Betsy Fogelman Tighe

Betsy Fogelman Tighe


Always standing. You won’t see the letters lie down.
Not when there are words to spell! And children to line up
for learning. Splinter. Alphabet upright.
Syrup. Still up. Sanctimonious. Okay, alphabet does drop 
to one knee, but won’t put its face in the grass,
won’t chew its cud an hour or more before
mooing off for a sip of clean water.
Alphabet does like to huddle
raising its eyes to the sky to spot from whence it was spit
the ahs and soughs of them, the plosives & fricatives & dipthongs.
The letters are making the milk of pretty, the marrow of vitamin D 
that will build the bones and the A that keeps the skin clear
as a washed blackboard.
Alphabet can be herded back to the barn and massaged
into double production, their heads tipped back, large eyes
wondering when you will leave them alone.
At night, perhaps, when the farmer has gone to bed,
the alphabet does take a chance on rest,
tipping over like a pitcher too full,
its untold words spooling into sleep.

from Rattle #75, Spring 2022
Tribute to Librarians


Betsy Fogelman Tighe: “I’m in my 12th and final year as the teacher-librarian at Roosevelt High School in Portland, Oregon, where, like all the area high school librarians, I have produced the school Poetry Slam each year. This year, my TAs proposed a charitable drive for the holidays, and, consequently, we teamed up with Street Books to gather books and reading glasses for the houseless. In the fall, after a freshman borrowed all of the Douglas Adams books, I recommended to him Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, and J.D. Salinger, whose names the student assiduously recorded, a pinnacle of my career.”

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