The World Book

When the woman in blue serge
held up the sun, my mother
opened the storm door, taking
the whole volume of S
into her hands. The sun
shown as a sun should,
and we sat down at the table
leafing through silks and ships,
saints and subtraction. We passed
Scotland and Spain, street-
cars and seeds and even
the Seven Wonders until
the woman who owned them skipped
to the solar system and said
it could be ours. My mother
thought, as I held my breath,
and while she was writing the check
for everything, A through Z,
I noticed the room with its stove
and saucers and spoons. I was wearing
a sweater and skirt and shoes
and there at the window the sun
was almost as clear as it was
in the diagram where its sunspots,
ninety-three million miles
from the earth and only a page
from Sumatra, were swirling. The woman
stood up, slamming it shut,
and drove down the street to leave us
in Saginaw, where I would wait
for the world to arrive. And each morning,
walking to school, I believed
in the day it would come, when we’d study
Sweden or stars and I’d stand
at the head of the classroom and take
the words of the world from my satchel,
explaining the secrets. 

Copyright © 2003 Patricia Hooper. From Aristotle’s Garden (Bluestem Press, 2003) by Patricia Hooper. Used with permission of the author.