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I stumbled upon a poem with the title, First Reader. It spoke to me. It opened doors to locked memories. It added one more reason to the endless list of why I miss my mother. She was my cheerleader and champion. She believed in me and my dream to write. She was my First Reader. She was not afraid to question…to challenge…to help me to be better.

Here is the poem by Judy Katz as it appeared in upstreet, volume 6.

First Reader

I used to read to you from the stepstool

in your dressing room. You sat in ivory bra

and half-slip, your back to me,

putting on make-up. You wanted to hear

everything—book reports, essays, poems—

and while I read, I checked your small mirror

for clues. I could tell you were interested

if your eyes widened or you raised your brows

out of range. Once—I think it was a paper

on the Ancient Mariner—you sat back

in your chair, mascara wand in hand,

and just listened.

Years later, your vision gone,

neither of us could count on your eyes.

I’d walk into a room and find you

listening with your whole body. Now,

that too is gone. I still see the dressing room,

your face in the mirror. I still think of you

as my first reader. Only now you’re part

of the silent, unseen audience. No eyes, no body…

now I have your full attention.

silent, unseen audience. No eyes, no body…

now I have your full attention.
©Copyright 2010 Judy Katz

(I have not yet mastered adding links, quotes and photos, forgive me.)

In the past few years I had someone who was willing to take on that role of reader. Who was not afraid to critique. Who helped me to move forward. I realize that has been missing in my writing life lately, and I have suffered for it.

Who was your first reader? Who reads you now?