Robert Klein Engler
( Chicago and New Orleans )
poem and audio link
From Old Books Someone Waves
We get to class soggy and worn this morning,
splashed by the bus and passing cars.
Then, we shake the weather off our umbrellas
the way we would the silver tissue of memory.
The gift of longing is simply given. Nothing more.
It comes or goes below a mystery of clouds.
Now, the earth vows to drink what falls upon it,
and the sidewalks are glycerin with a skin of rain.
I did not expect after twenty years to swallow
again a stymied lump of tears, or realize
once more that part of me I cannot help.
Always, the one-sided moon of affection rises.
Rain is not to oil books, their ink dissolves
and pages melt in it, but look here, this book
was written by the lover of a man I knew.
I'm sure by now the two are dry as ash.
I spread his words and read along the spine.
Please open me and let the bones fall out.
My poem "From Old Books Someone Waves" comes from an experience I had while looking for a book in the Roosevelt University library. It was a rainy day. I had just come from my class and wanted to check on a point that I had made in my lecture. As I walked through the library stacks, my sight stopped upon a book of poems by a poet who had recently died. Something made me open the book and read. Eventually, I found the first book I was looking for, and I found this poem, too.
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Current Issue - Spring Supplement 2006