Poetry for my sanity


I’m usually that person sitting next to you, on a bus, train, or plane, or in a cafe, restaurant, or pub, or at the dentist, doctor, bank, or, yes, even during a party, with my nose buried in a book. I have a Kindle, and the Kindle app is also installed in both my office and personal phones and my iPad, and at the same time I have two piles of to-be-read books, some of which were from three years ago. But lately, for the life of me, I couldn’t focus long enough to finish reading one book. The last one I actually finished reading was Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid, an 87-page e-novella I got for $0.99 from Amazon, which, considering the number of pages, doesn’t even really count as a book.

It’s frustrating, especially since most of the books I’ve started reading are really interesting (Olive Kitteridge, The Historian, A Visitor’s Guide to Victorian England,  Love, Nina, The Man Who Played With Fire, and My Dark Vanessa). It’s just that I’ve been too restless lately to stay put in one place and just read. Hell, ever since I started working from home, I’ve moved seven times - from my table to the bed to one sofa to the other sofa to the dining table to my daughter’s drafting table to her bed, and now I’m preparing to go back to my craft table - trying to find the perfect work area. I would’ve worked in the balcony were it not for the heat (we were in the middle of summer for the most part of the quarantine, and it’s only lately that the rain has started). 

What’s saving me now is poetry. Maybe because reading poetry is like falling in love all over again - with the one who got away. The feels are still there, with some poems evoking memories of another lifetime, but without the need for commitment. You can read a poem, feel your heart burst and break, and you can walk away. Every now and then you think about it but it doesn’t have the neediness of an unfinished novel. But, unlike that old lover who is long gone, the poems are just there, waiting for you to take a much-needed break from your quarantine workday, ready to commune with you yet again. 

The summer night glowed; in the field, fireflies were glinting. 
And for those who understood such things, the stars were sending messages:  
You will leave the village where you were born  
and in another country you’ll become very rich, very powerful, 
but always you will mourn something you left behind, even though  
you can’t say what it was, 
and eventually you will return to seek it.
(Midsummer, Louise Gluck)


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