I have a confession to make. I am not a super poetry reader. My first choice in reading material is not poetry, nor is it any type of edifying non-fiction. Left to my own devices I would ingest nothing but graphic novels and whatever new horror/sci-fi/fantasy novel is out there. Sprinkle that diet with the a few reworked fairy tales and a couple chapters of scripture, and you have a fairly accurate idea of my reading habits.
I have this husband who reads almost nothing but non-fiction and poetry. He will foray into the land of Wendell Berry or Dostoevsky, some Tolstoy, you know, the classic works of literature. I wouldn’t say his reading list is boring (cause it’s not, it just lacks in zombies), he wouldn’t say my reading choices are pablum (okay, he might just say that), but I prefer to think we balance each other out.
Most of the poems I post on Wednesdays are my choices. I read something that tugs at my heart, or I find it interesting, or just plain fun. I choose poems, but I almost always run them by him first. Does this mean what I think it means? Is this a good poem, or an overly sentimental poem? Sometimes I know what I want to say, but I don’t know what poem will go with the sentiment. In those instances I call on the man. Find me a poem on love, I tell him. Find me a poem on love that is not too sweet, nothing romantic, a poem with family, a dead grandmother, a dog, two deer and make sure it makes you shed a tear at the end. I have just the poem, he tells me, confidently walking to his basement office and fetching a photo copied sheet of paper, with the perfect poem written on it. The poem that holds all the things I wanted and more.
So in case you ever wondered, I confess to not doing it, not doing anything, alone. As with everything I do, there is always that man. He finds what I need and brings it to me. He nudges me to better choices. He is good for Poetry Wednesday, and he is good for me.
And in case you are wondering, he chose this week’s poem.
We are poor students who stay after school to study joy.
We are like those birds in the India mountains.
I am a widow whose child is her only joy.
The only thing I hold in my ant-like head
Is the builder’s plan of the castle of sugar.
Just to steal one grain of sugar is a joy!
Like a bird, we fly out of darkness into the hall,
Which is lit with singing, then fly out again.
Being shut out of the warm hall is also a joy.
I am a laggard, a loafer, and an idiot. But I love
To read about those who caught one glimpse
Of the Face, and died twenty years later in joy.
I don’t mind your saying I will die soon.
Even in the sound of the word soon, I hear
The word you which begins every sentence of joy.
“You’re a thief!” the judge said. “Let’s see
Your hands!” I showed my callused hand in court.
My sentence was a thousand years of joy.