“We read to know we’re not alone.”
So said C.S. Lewis. Actually, he was quoting the father of one of his pupils. Or was that just in the movie?
Either way, he only had it half right. We also read to remember that the world is an extraordinary place.
I love to hear from people who go to the places and live the escapades that I, for whom most adventures begin in the bookstore and end in my chair at home, will only read about.
My friend, the poet Mandy Sutter, seems to understand. To honor National Poetry Month, she graciously allowed me to share this poem with you:
In the gap between an English afternoon and evening,
we’re let into the bookshop, leaving the dishevelled city
with its relentless pavements, for the civilisation
of folding pine chairs and carpeting; books.
She enters to held breaths wall-to-wall. She’s slight, tanned,
more this, less that than anyone expected, hair bright as a globe.
She shows slides: cooking monkey in Gambo; on a pirogue
up the Zaire river; getting stoned by children in Senegal.
But my eyes are on her more than the pictures. She brings me
the world on her feet, skin, breasts, in my own tongue.
It silences me, an islander holidaying on other islands;
Ibiza, Crete, Tenerife. A woman walking continents raises dust.
Willing to see more sense in a grain of desert sand
than in all of England, I queue for her book, her signature.
Meeting her eyes, I receive my blessing and leave smiling.
We all do. We have been saved; already we are less ordinary.
Thank you, Mandy.
(Thanks to Boni Idem for the image.)