I think Mr. Kooser is being a bit diplomatic in his description of the poem. Rather than awakening to the knowledge that all of us don’t see things the same way, I think this poem is about awakening to the knowledge that kids can be real assholes.

American Life in Poetry: Column 223

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

There’s lots of literature about the loss of innocence, because we all share in that loss and literature is about what we share. Here’s a poem by Alexandra Teague, a San Franciscan, in which a child’s awakening to the alphabet coincides with another awakening: the unsettling knowledge that all of us don’t see things in the same way.

Language Lessons

The carpet in the kindergarten room
was alphabet blocks; all of us fidgeting
on bright, primary letters. On the shelf
sat that week’s inflatable sound. The th
was shaped like a tooth. We sang
about brushing up and down, practiced
exhaling while touching our tongues
to our teeth. Next week, a puffy U
like an upside-down umbrella; the rest
of the alphabet deflated. Some days,
we saw parents through the windows
to the hallway sky. Look, a fat lady,
a boy beside me giggled. Until then
I’d only known my mother as beautiful.