The Writer

October 21, 2009

by Richard Wilbur.

In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten.  I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.

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Sisters of Avalon

September 30, 2009

For my International Studies in Human Rights course this week, I’m reading Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy. My copy has been used at least once before, and the margins are only somewhat stained with the former owner’s comments. His/her hot pink pen scribbles and underlines pieces I agree with, and I readily underline over her own markings. My comments sometimes overlap with hers, or they stand on their own. Other times I can only underline and put exclamation points by her notes.

This kind of dialogue can’t happen in a Kindle. While I may never meet this person, and as Billy Collins has so beautifully written, I have established a melancholy relationship with the previous reader, which makes my experience that much richer. The margins are fat and begging to be taken and deflowered. I’ve claimed them as my own. My dark blue ink collides with the previous person’s hot pink – an illustration and tribute to accessible knowledge. At the end of the book, Kevin Bales asks that the reader pass on the book to further the education. I am all too ready to give this book to someone else. Let the dialogue continue.