Poet in the passenger’s seat

April 25, 2008 § Leave a comment

The fact that Mary Norton’s New and Selected Poems, Volume 1, is in my car has nothing to do with the fact that it is poetry month. It wouldn’t matter if it were take-your-dog-to-work month. Still that volume of poetry would claim the passenger seat.

Mary Norton’s tome of reasonable length ‘works’ for me. HM bought it, inscribed it and put it under the tree for me four  years ago. Snarl was going out with his first girlfriend then, and she commented on the book, trilling how much she loved that poet! I didn’t touch the book for months following her ebullient comments.

It camped out on the bottom shelf of my nightstand for months, having been moved several times prior. A few weeks ago, I rescued it, clutching it to me, feeling its cool heat as I headed to the car and off to work.

And when I’m at the bank or pharmacy drive-in, or returning to the office from lunch hour, or if (and that’s a big IF since I gave up going through the ice cream drive-in) I’m just chilling in my car, windows down, nature buzzin’, the book “speaks” to me then.

Poetry lets you duck in and out. Norton writes about things I’ve seen or heard, things that were carved in myheart and mind long ago, things like a bear wakening in spring, things she knows how to call up, some of it by instinct.

Oh pishposh, you say, big deal.

But on a day that vibrates with the business of making money, to open a volume of poetry and turn nonchalantly to any page and read for one minute or two or three minutes takes the greed out of the air, returns it to its natural state, that being an atmosphere in which all of us live and exist and breathe deeply as delirious equal creatures. Poetry emblazons the mind, gives it hope.

It is simple stuff, rich, carved out of the air into words that are fat enough, image-ish enough for another’s soul to chew on and be thrilled.

Norton gets to ride shotgun for as long as the trade paperback holds up in the front seat and believe me, in the midst of a St Louis summer, the acres of parking lot will be a divine test.

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