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Mom, she says, I don’t know what it was about that book,

but the pages were falling out and it smelled old

and I think it cast a spell on me.

And I recall the first time I read Emily,

an old cloth book with the text debossed,

how I ran my fingers over the words

and felt them as I read them:

“As imperceptibly as Grief

The Summer lapsed away—”

Mom, she says, I didn’t even understand

a single word I read, but I couldn’t stop reading.

And now, I think that book is haunting me.

We are making her bed just before she sleeps,

and I tug on the covers to straighten them.

Yes, I say, her words are like spells.

I memorized that poem, though I was

too young to know of “courteous

and harrowing grace.” I knew only

that when I said the words, they gave

me such an openness, a wideness, a delight,

as if morning found its way into my chest,

and now, thirty years later, the early light

still touches me, still thralls.

The bed remade, she slips beneath

and I lay at her feet and for a time we read.

I want to talk more about Emily,

but the spell is her own and I don’t

want to trespass her magic,

the wonder she feels.

Perhaps someday she, too,

will read these lines,

“Our Summer made her light escape

into the beautiful.”

and know herself more beautiful

for having let them touch her.

 

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Follow the Lead

 

 

a

single

pencil

can

make

a

line

thirty-

five

miles

long,

and

I

wonder

how

many

miles

of

poems

per

pencil—

and

wouldn’t

it

be

amazing

to

have

poems

scrawled

all

across

America—

323.1

million

pencils

worth—

all

of

them

sharpened

not

to

point

at

each

other

but

to

write

the

words

that

must

be

said,

telling

our

stories

and

leading

us

in

looping

lines

ever

closer

to

each

other

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reading the book again—

the dogeared pages the same,

the story in them, wholly changed

 

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One Getting Lost

all day turning the pages

of someone else’s life—

putting a bookmark in my own

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Despite the fact
I know what comes
next, despite the fact
I have turned
this page before,
despite the fact
that I tell myself
I will not cry, I will
not cry, despite
the past dragged
up into this moment
like a featherless bird,
despite the sunlight
stretching across
the morning floor,
despite the whisper
that says it’s creepy,
and despite the fact
that it’s not my name,
not my story, not
my song running
so soon out of notes,
I still cry every time I read
those words again,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.

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rereading the book
of my days,
every page
I’ve dog eared
as one worth living

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