The first poem I'd like to share is one by an author I've been talking about a lot lately. Janice Kulyk Keefer, author of The Ladies' Lending Library and winner of the Kobzar Award, is best known for her novels and her family memoir Honey & Ashes, but she is also a poet. Her latest collection, Midnight Stroll, opens with a lovely poem in honour of reading. So without further ado:
A garden, summer, a river
a woman. She is not on a swing,
or crumpling her silks on the grass:
she is in a hammock, and she is reading.
The web holds her, the arms of the trees,
the silver bracelet on her arm: sun
sways in the water below her.
This air holds something golden;
it honeys the leaves
in their dark clusters. The nymph
forever emptying her urn
which is forever full, hears it:
a hum, the deep murmur
between eyes and page.
Think of the paintings of women, reading.
Magdalens, mistresses, letter-lovers.
How the paper in their hands
turns lucent as pearls, drinking
the gleam of ink. How they lean
into language, as if they were sails
on windy seas, these women, reading.
Her husband, wading among the watercress
does not call out to her, knowing
her mind holds the book the way the hammock
holds, but does not enclose her,
this woman in whom
there is the warmth of coral
worn against skin; whose arms
always open in greeting.
One rare summer afternoon:
a book, her only intimate. The stillness
in this garden is an instrument, put softly down;
light across the water weaves
its burning nets --
these words, travelling
the blue roads of her eyes.