Every semester, I must convince two thirds of my high school students that poetry is worth reading. First, we cover the most common mistake with poetry: Do not read it like you would prose. A newspaper article that doesn’t
yield its meaning on the first read means the journalist hasn’t done her job; a poem that yields all its meaning on the first read means the poet hasn’t done her job.
Step 2: We examine two very different notes about my failure to cut the grass as a teen. First, my mother, then my father’s: