Instructions, Tucked Between Two Books in the Public Library: Day Five

This post is part of a series.  To read more, click here.


First things first:  English teachers of the old-school Orthodox variety, gifted literary critics, and serious professors of poetry and the analysis thereof:  for your own sanity, please avert your eyes.

Okay then…


A few weeks ago, I had a funny conversation with my husband about what it means to read poetry.

My husband is exceptionally smart.  He reads often — good books, books by people who are generally recognized as intellectuals — and he reads well.  But, like a lot of people, he sometimes finds himself mystified by poetry.

Me?  I find myself *more* mystified by the way he wants to read poetry — as if he’s part of a search party, focused and determined, looking for metaphor and meaning like he’s hacking through the jungle with a machete.

(I think he might have learned this method in English class).

Meanwhile, I can’t imagine reading poetry like that, at least not for pleasure.  Which I guess is because I’m the kind of fragile, flaky soul who could lie on my back by a river for two hours straight, listening to it unspool.  (Yes, really).

So I scratched out some words about how I read it — how I read it when it’s making me happy.  And then I took those words and tucked them between two volumes of poetry on a shelf in my local library.

You might call them instructions, although like most instructions, they should come with a hearty invitation to be ignored.  Still — maybe they’ll give you a new way of looking at that fluffy, high-minded stuff you think of when you think about poetry.

(But maybe you shouldn’t tell your high-school English teacher.) 😉


I am going to show you
how to read poetry.

There is no trick to it,
really —

you just let it fall over you,
like rain,
and keep falling,

until at last
some green thing
in the soil of your soul


(You’ll know.)






1 Comment

  1. I’ll confess; I am mystified by poetry most of the time. I am a visual thinker which means I don’t paint with words, but still I have never understood why we are expected to pull poems, like paintings, to pieces. Read (look), FEEL, and enjoy the fact that a little more joy (or not) has brightened your day!
    And now I too, am glad of your trigger warning at the very beginning of this post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s