Poetry Friday: Lost in Books

Poetry Friday is hosted by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche

Right now, the house is quiet. Daylight goes on and on. The pressures of day-to-day teaching are still a few weeks away, so I feel justified in devouring books, beginning to end in one sitting.

Yesterday, I finished Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story  by Nora Raleigh Baskin and got two-thirds through Towers Falling  by Jewell Parker Rhodes. What an emotional duo. I’m feeling lost in that time.

For Poetry Friday, I offer two poems that celebrate my summer reading life. The first from Donald Graves’ book  Baseball, Snakes, and Summer Squash. I wonder, how many of my students are having this experience. The second poem from Wallace Stevens speaks to my more adult self, calming and justifying my reader’s heart.

Lost in a Book

by Donald Graves

We get up from the table
after a full lunch.
Dad says,
“Got a book here
you can have.
‘Bout a kid lost on a mountain in Maine.
True story.
Author signed it.”

I reach for the book,
picture of a boy
on the cover
lying in a sack
thin and pale.

I opened to the first page
and read standing;
Dad has disappeared,
leaving myself, the boy,
and the book.

I finally sit down,
and travel with the boy
up Mr. Katahdin, lost
in the clouds,
and I am the boy,
terrified, cold from the clouds,
bitten by blackflies,
mosquitos, following a brook, while I
eat blueberries.

I turn on
the living room lamp;
a bear moves from cover
and the boy watches
from the other
side of a blueberry bush.

“Time to set the table
for supper, Donald.”
I hear the voice
but the boy trudges on and
loses his sneakers
in the rocky stream.
I want the voice
to tire, to go away.
The boy falls
in a heap
across the stream
from a cabin
where a man spots him.

“Will you put
that book away?

The House Was Quiet and The World Was Calm

by Wallace Stevens

 The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night
Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,
Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom
The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.
The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.
And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself
Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.