Reading for Pleasure by Julia Alvarez:
When I read a book I love, I fall in love
with the author, I can’t help it, the voice
even if centuries old pierces my heart
as if along with every reader, I
were being threaded through a needle’s eye
that’s being used to stitch the lot of us
into an uncommon humanity
of lovers for whom books are love letters
posted to every man, woman, and child,
but penned specifically to each of us.
How many times haven’t I stroked the sheets
of my Riverside Shakespeare, or pressed my lips
to my dog-eared Dickinson! I pine for Keats
whenever I read his odes, and I confess
I want to be Maud when I reread Yeats.
Each time, I teach George Herbert, I caress
the page on which my favorite poem appears
as if to soothe the weary minister
who asks, Who’d have thought my shrivel’d hart
could have recovered greensesse? I did, George!
Perhaps I picked up this desire from them
of wanting my readers to fall in love
with hairbands, willow trees, lawn ornaments:
this odd and wondrous world which would be lost
without our recreations- those who write,
but principally those who read for pleasure,
breathing life into dead characters.
And now, like them, I lie on these cold sheets,
waiting to be a woman once again.
You who are reading these words come closer.