So you ask me what’s going on, and I can answer that on the surface. There are, in my opinion, either a myriad of answers or one. Yes, one. When I used to dissect contracts, I crossed out superfluous words, phrases, sentences, and even paragraphs sometimes. Prose and poetry benefit from wordiness, legal documents do not. Words envelope — too many of them bury — which may be what contract writers do.
I move a few books and see a highlighted phrase in my notebook. Written yesterday, and for some incongruous reason, it means something different today.
a world starving
Maybe the meaning is not so different after all.
My college English Literature professor told us that the book for the class would be invaluable in our lives. Most of us looked around at one another and snickered, like, for real, dude? Some shook their heads.
I must get it. Yes, I kept the book.
On the first page is a college friend’s phone number. I thumbed a few thin pages to look at the copyright, it is something I do now every time I pick up a book. 1956. The class was in 1982. I could go on a tangent, diverge from what got me to write about this book … but no. In it, I discovered Robert Frost, William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, William Blake, ee cummings, Langston Hughes, etc. Works like Hills Like White Elephants, The Most Dangerous Game, A Raisin in the Sun, The Lottery, The Death of Ivan Ilych, etc. In essence, I discovered poetry, good writing, and words.
I did not read anything besides what was necessary for school reading growing up, I mean as a little girl, except for an encyclopedia we had and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. My mother asked me to read it and told me it had the lesson to life. I dreaded reading it, was a child, guess around ten, fearing I would not get the lesson. Of course, I have never forgotten it.
<< I have an old copy (prefer to buy used, old copies of some books to shiny new ones), a newish pop-up book, which was for our granddaughter but I kept it, I have done that with other books =), and a coloring book. We read the book in High School French class, and I was delighted to have known all about the little prince and the baobabs, fox, snake, etc. >>
When we moved to the states, I read constantly to avoid people and speaking English. Town libraries became havens, books my refuge. How could anyone (meaning = grownups) frown upon that, right? I read whatever I could get my hands on, no one ever, to my knowledge, checked what I read. Once I started communicating with people, I stopped reading, except for the necessities of school work. And some amazing books I read. We had lists to choose from in my English classes, and I was always attracted to the classics. Except for the college literature book, which, I just discovered, had contemporary writing, albeit to 1956.
It sounds like I veered, but no. I did not read again until my late twenties, and that because I was shamed into reading a Hemingway novel, which brought me back to reading and getting lost in the world of words. I have not read like I used to lately, in the past few years, nor written, perhaps because I didn’t need to lose myself? Don’t know. But the hankering was there, I just put a lid on it and postponed it. It takes time to read — let alone write (favorite excuse). What will my husband think when I spend hours in my own world? And, for what, anyhow? I could write and read to the detriment of my house, for sure.
I disdain when people say writing is cathartic. Feels like a pat on my head with a condescending smile as if I were a child pretending to be a doctor — how I perceive it, anyway. It is not a hobby. It is not for fun, although it brings me happiness when I do it.
we all have a story to tell — i’m just doing it
I absolutely digressed. Double yikes! The English Lit book has a coffee stain that runs almost halfway down and across it. It contains 1,525 thin pages, Bible-like, and all kinds of bookmarks — some ancient. It was defective, too. Some pages were, and still are, crinkled and have more paper than needed. But it is a jewel, a treasure. And the reason why it popped in my head is that one of the poems I have memorized, I can do that easily, rose in my mind this morning before my daily readings.
I still remember the eye-opening sensation when I found out who Langston Hughes was — the poem lost its meaning to me for a moment, then, it had two. Mine and his. We studied the poem in class.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore —
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over —
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?Langston Hughes
A DREAM DEFERRED
Typed exactly the way it is in the book. Many times over the years have I recited A Dream Deferred in my mind when I have been paralyzed with fear or anger or discontent (whether at others or myself); when I wanted to do or say something but felt not capable or daring, or was full of doubt.