Excerpts

Reading for Pleasure

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.

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