I would be a library—shelves and
shelves of me, honoring books—
too many ever to read. I would have
desks and chairs for quiet study and
for writing poems. I would have a
librarian who kept things in order.
After all the reading I have done—oh,
after all the reading—I would be a library.
(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine)
THE DICTIONARY LEAF
In the book there is a leaf
that waits to be found again.
I write this down carefully
to honor the discovery:
I have sensed its stem under page
after page of turning—
knowing it is safely archived
with the words.
I do not want to damage
its perfection. I want to be
surprised—to call back the impulse
that made me put it there.
And when I happen upon it,
I will stop my reading
and study the leaf again
for its texture and design—
respect the tenderness I feel for it.
sidewalks are strewn with leaves
from city trees, falling in red and golden
patterns of falling,
some pedestrians pick up leaves for
book pages as reminders of what falls
in the seasons of falling,
street pigeons tell where is where
and cars and people
take turns stopping and going
intrude upon rude sounds
and grate the nerves that quiet craves
crows claim fields and telephone wires
and trees where they squabble
and scold with cantankerous voices
pigeons line rooftops and telephone wires
and at dusk—flurry up—white-patterned—
against the pieces of sky that open for them,
in little cubby-hole openings of buildings
small birds make nests and live their lives
amid ours, so crowded against them
He is the keeper of the words, this long cat lying along
the top of the dictionary on the dictionary stand,
alert to our wary notice, one soft paw on the page
ready to unsheathe. Social to the point of annoyance,
he eyes us from this vantage point—Webster’s left open
to whatever word we last sought meaning of.
He knows what it means—this need of knowing—
this need for exactness, and he guards
his right in the place of things—this presence—
this cat—at the edge of our animation,
reading the impetus of our words—the intonations
of our meanings, to the range of his decipherings.
SHAKESPEARE AND CO., BOOKSHOP, PARIS
(Facebook posting by The Bluestocking Review)
“I would like to go there evenings”
when the lights are turned down,
creating beautiful blue shadows
and the blue-leather chair
shines with a silverfish-blue—
and the narrow aisle is stacked
with books—and the shelves are
too high with books—but I don’t care,
because there is a bookshelf ladder.
The one chair by the round table
has books on it, too, and two white
ceiling lights cast their sallow light
directly down, and around the
narrow room, creating red shadows
on the carpet from all the book bindings
on the shelves and from the original,
old red rug as far as it will go. And I
will go there some year and avail myself
of the silverfish-blue-leather-chair
—and look around—and look around—and
if anyone should ask for me, I’m not there.
In stippled air,
the butterfly dances toward the pen . . .
write me, it says . . . draw me, it pleads;
I am all I am.