The Book Won’t Let Me Hold It

The Book Won’t Let Me Hold It March 23, 2015

I was trying to read a book of poets from all over the world but the day and the light led me to feel their lives. This is the poem that arrived.


This morning, the sun spills

from the mountain to the page

and try as I will, I can’t read the

poems; only the chiseled notes

in the back about their lives: this

one killed on a forced march to

Germany, his poems pulled from

a mass grave. Another began as a

basket weaver in Turin. And the one

who climbed the Sierra Nevada in

search of his wife, long gone. And

the native of Shansi returning for

the first signs of spring, waiting on

the willows. Lifetimes to carry and

carve what no one can carry or carve.

And now, the lost one from the Sung

Dynasty who left only two poems, like

blue pebbles after a storm. And the

sad one whose only crime was being

sensitive. Like a waterfall gaining

from the source, spraying off the

rocks below; the lives of artists.

The poets referred to, in order, throughout the poem “The Book Won’t Let Me Hold It” are: Miklós Radńoti (Hungarian poet), Antonio Porchia (Argentinean poet), Kenneth Rexroth (American poet), Yang Chu-Yuan (Ch’in poet), Lu Mei-P’o (Sung poet), and Cesare Pavese (Italian poet).

A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a loved one or friend, describe a connection you have for a writer or artist from another time and what their work awakens in you.

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