Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New Living Spaces

New Living Spaces: that's the title of one of these books, filed under CONSTRUCTION in the used book section of the Habitat ReStore (for Humanity) in Harbor Springs. S is doing hot pool therapy for his back injury at the Sports Medicine facility next door. So I shop. Books are nicely sorted; fiction is alphabetical by author. In a way, it's like seeing my life as a librarian pass before my eyes. Books and authors I bought, mended discarded, etc. having their last half- or quarter-lives here, before they are used for fuel. Available for 94 cents, the good, the bad, the ugly--all the same price.What city is it that heats its main hospital with used library books? Now I have forgotten.

I used to borrow and look at books like this myself whenever we thought we might do something to the house. We painted a lot of single walls orange, and--a few years later--painted them into neutral colors again. Now these books have a dated, hopeless look to them. Even the typography looks old.

Tonight's poem is by one of our few female poet's laureate of the US, Kay Ryan. (Served: 2008-2010) When he used to know her at the College of Marin, my friend Paul's lover, Bill Peters, kept wanting to introduce us. Because I was a poet, too! Then Bill died (of AIDS (before we even know there was such a thing.) And then Paul died, after we knew what it was, but while we were still helpless to do anything very useful about it. And then we rode out on San Francisco Bay in a Neptune Society boat, I was surprised how white and powdery his ashes were; they blew about some before going into the water. Then Paul's sister, Sandy, handed out kites and read passages to us from Paul's journal about kites. (He flew them every spring and summer,) We flew the kites from the boat until gradually, each kite dipped into the water, and the kite-string broke.

This poem is from The Best of It; new and selected poems by Kay Ryan, Grove Press, 2010, page 192. This book was discarded from the Baltimore County Public Library. I purchased it used through Amazon. It's in great shape and I love those mylar book jackets libraries use! Still, I always felt we had to discard books too soon. That was a sadness I found out about librarianship after I entered it.


At first
each drop
makes its
own pock
against the tin.
In time 
there is a 
thin lacquer
which is
layered and
until there's
a quantity
of water
with its 
own skin
and sense
of purpose,
shocked at
each new violation
of its surface.

Admirable for its simplicity, this poem makes a clear statement of the poet's observation. Catch those rhymes tin/thin/skin and purpose/surface as well as the almost rhymes, like drop and pock. Sleep tight, dream of water, because I just got The Oxford Book of the Sea and it looks to be full of wonders!

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