Leaving My Head Inside a Book

September 2, 2012

Piles of books on my dining room table

An Afternoon in the Stacks
by William Stafford

Closing the book, I find I have left my head
inside.  It is dark in here, but the chapters open
their beautiful spaces and give a rustling sound,
words adjusting themselves to their meaning.
Long passages open at successive pages.  An echo,
continuous from the title onward, hums
behind me.  From in here the world looms,
a jungle redeemed by these linked sentences
carved out when an author traveled and a reader
kept the way open.  When this book ends
I will pull it inside-out like a sock
and throw it back in the library.  But the rumor
of it will haunt all that follows in my life.
A candleflame in Tibet leans when I move.

This has been a week of books and reading for me.  The Seattle Public Libraries have closed for the week for budget reasons, and I spent my week off without pay immersed in book after book.  Books are my way to travel on the cheap, to transport myself out of the humdrum of my routine life.  An ideal vacation in many ways.

(P.S. One of my favorite novels from my week of reading was Ivan Doig’s The Bartender’s TaleDoig, who now lives in Seattle, is one of my favorite writers.)

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4 Responses to “Leaving My Head Inside a Book”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    Small coincidence here – I have Stafford’s poem tucked into the draft of a post for somewhere down the road. It’s one of my favorites.

    Those appear to be lawyer’s bookcases to the right. I have my mother’s – one of my most treasured possessions.

  2. Alice Shoemaker Says:

    YOUR PHOTOGRAPH OF THE BOOKS CHEERED ME uP I have piles of books and reading them and re-arranging them so I can find things which tend to get mixed in with the neat piles (hah) -is a challenge – no trips, no library what is a person to do — except of course read a book IN THE SUNSHINE.


  3. […] “Things the Wind Says,” “The Dream of Now,” “Yes,” and “An Afternoon in the Stacks.”  Stafford was born in Kansas, but he lived and taught at Lewis and Clark College near […]


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