Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 13
Fall 2015

Of the Many Things We Are Taught

by Annie Lighthart

Not to eat the candy found in the road, nor the leaf, nor the
stick, nor the candy-shaped rock, nor the white berries growing low
in the yard next door. Not to shout, enthusiastically or otherwise, in
public places: libraries, churches, airplanes, schools, grocery stores,
museums, government buildings, large and echoing bathrooms or halls.
Not to swallow gum, nor its wrapper. To sit down while eating.
To sit down while swinging. To sit down on the bus. Just
to sit down. Not to hold pins in one’s mouth while sewing.
Not to lick knives. Not to wander into the street, nor dawdle
at the corner, but to maintain a little fear, or more. Not to look at
people frankly and say what one thinks. Not to run out of the house
with no clothes, nor, in warm rain, strip down to the skin. Not to hit
or poke. To resign oneself to hats and to gloves. Not to approach
strange dogs or horses or squirrels or hissing maternal large geese. Not
to half-crawl across the table to reach for the pie. To forgive many things
and to sing, but never more loudly than the rest.


SHJ Issue 13
Fall 2015

Annie Lighthart’s

poetry collection Iron String was published in 2013 by Airlie Press. Her poetry has been read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac and chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye to be placed in Ireland’s Galway University Hospitals as part of their Poems for Patience project. Annie’s poems have been published in journals such as Cimarron Review, The Greensboro Review, and Hunger Mountain. She earned an MFA from Vermont College and has taught at Boston College, as a poet in the schools, and with students of all ages. She lives in a small green corner of Portland, Oregon.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury