I don’t read enough.
Magazines pool colorfully around my feet. Never cracked books, fat books, thin books, picture-books, books with church book sale stickers still attached, books so old they smell, deliciously, of dirty hair, yellowed-paperbacks all stack around my desk. Books splayed like Pilates-ladies’ legs wait atop the night-table. Chunky books and ones with broken spines clutter the dressers. Upside-down titles nap on unused beds. These books call to me. Call to me.
I cringe at dinner parties when the person at my right asks what I thought of a new title. Where do they find time to read? Are bills unpaid? Phone messages permanently lodged in the machine? Don’t their cats take heart medicine? Do they not dry clean their clothes? Toenails. I sneak a look below the table. Uncut?
I read. I’m reading all the time. My glasses never leave my nose. But what is it I read? Emails. Instructions. Enough of an article to get the gist. A novel on a plane. All fat-free. My brain growls. My spirit gnaws.
Poetry is what I want. But, alone I won’t make it. So I assemble three local poets. Good thinkers. Good writers. I create a once a month group. We’re trying to give ourselves a name. Having four poets agree on anything is tough….
We throw out suggestions for the first session. I win. “Poems That Made Us Poets.” We each bring 3 to the next meeting plus a bit of why. William Blake, Ferlinghetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, Keats. The poems are terrific but the “whys” are better.
Mine: Keats, “When I Have Fears.” My voice cracks as I read it aloud. I want this at my funeral. (Along with Louis Armstrong’s singing both “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” and “Wonderful World.” He’s my idol. And a collage maker, like me.) Amy Lowell, “Patterns,” and Edna St. Vincent Millay, “First Fig.” I’m thirteen again, struck by the powerful force of words, transported, understood, giving in to what William James calls,” mystical susceptibility.”
More to come….
Next month: “The Poets You Can’t Get Rid Of.” Saddle-up Cavafy. I’m about to take you for a ride.