The Palmer Method and Dick and Jane
by Carol Hamilton

Everyone scorns them now,
but I loved Sally and Puff,
Frank spoke of the stupidity
of the Palmer Method of handwriting,
all those spiky, pressed-together
ups and downs, the perfectly circling loops
spiraling across the page.
Each night I practiced,
tongue between clenched teeth,
showed off the next day
to my older friends who got to go
to school. For years I fought
for first seat in penmanship class
with my boyfriend, John Mellick,
though now I am among the world's
worst chicken-scratchers.
My own mother wore
a house dress all day, spruced up
for my father's white-shirted,
necktie-choked return home for supper.
Like Sally, I had a cat
and played with the older kids.
Now I am a bit of a cynic,
but sadly, I have never gained
enough discrimination
to be bored by the mundane,
the everybody of me, nor the times tables,
the long and short vowel sounds, or even,
(God help me!) the i before e trick.

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