“You don’t need them,”
my friend said. Books.
Boxes and boxes, packed
and carted to my small
new house. But I might,
I told her. But I do, I knew.
Two long shelves of poetry
under a northern window
in the living room, every
lovely line underscored
in ink by my own hand.
Who knows when one of
those will be required to
save my heart, my soul?
A case six shelves tall
fills a study wall with fiction.
Who can live without stories?
Its double wide but shorter
twin on an adjacent wall all
nonfiction teaching me.
The lives of Che and Emma,
Isak Dineson, Lillian Hellman,
Mark Twain, too, and more.
Treatises on war, capitalism,
food, the desert, how to be
a better writer, anarchy’s
true meaning, all there.
Knowledge for the taking.
A new shelf in the kitchen
built to fit beneath its
windows, home to books
on birds and trees, clouds
and rocks, heavy tomes
of art and artists placed
sideways on the bottom
shelf. All the books on Italy
I could find. Mary Poppins,
too, and Pooh, sitting beside
The Lost World of Italian-
American Radicalism, low,
so my granddaughter, five
years old, can retrieve it
herself, carry it on a tray
of Nutella and apple slices
to the blanket fort where
we read it all a second time
to her doll babies lined
and listening on the couch.
“I’m giving all my books away,”
my friend in a sweep of down-
sizing simplification, says,
wanting me to agree. But,
I don’t, and I’m not. Someday…
I try to explain, but she just
rolls her eyes and won’t hear me.

Then the libraries closed.
Bookstores shut their doors.
Still, in my house, books galore.
My hands caress the copies
worn and new. My eyes linger
on the lives, the light, the lore
to cherish and adore. I choose
one my friend might like, tuck it
between her porch’s doors
sending her sweet solace,
words on a page. I smile.
Take myself home to sit on
the stoop and read. And read.

3 thoughts on “…And Read by Ruth Ann Dandrea

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