The Usual Ghosts

It's funny, but whenever I pick up a book (and I mean pick it up of my own volition), it's almost never because I want some specific information. Oh, I may want to understand something, but that's not the real reason I read. Rather, I tend to read with the mute expectation that I will be a different person when I finish the book. Okay, maybe not a different person, but altered in some small way. I can't even say this expectation is a conscious thing, but I know that I will abandon books if they don't meet this need.

There's an aspirational aspect to personal reading, as if the right idea or feeling might pull it all together, which is really silly when you think about it. Still, I continue to read with this expectation. This brings to mind an old poem I once wrote about going to the annual book sale at the State Fairgrounds each autumn.

At the book sale
I meet the usual ghosts
Amid the neatened rows of
Cookbooks, play scripts and college
Course copies of Jude the Obscure.

They always turn up,
These ghosts,
When my neck is hunched, eyes
Racing over the spines,
The box already nagging my arms.


I pause,
Handle the heft,
Admire its pleasing 19th Century solidity,
And imagine it on the pile
Near the nightstand,
With all the other ghosts
I once meant to be.


TXC said…
You should have been selected to write and read the inauguration poem!

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