Sunday, February 06, 2005

Linda Pastan

I should be shot, yes, taken outside and shot. I bought Linda Pastan's Carnival Evening based on L.R.'s recommendation more than a year ago, I'm sure, a recommendation I trusted, yet I still allowed the book to sit never opened on the shelf until yesterday. There is no explanation for my own colossal stupidity, because this is my kind of poetry book: an ample number of poems based on mythological personalities and events, the writing and reading life, being female, and individual goodies such as a poem about Emily Dickinson, visiting Anne Frank's house, free will, and my own personal favorite, one about a safecracker (a nitrogylcerin reference!) that turns into a poem about sex.

This isn't the best poem in the collection, but certainly the most typical for me to post here:

Realms of Gold


I used to think
the cover of a book
was a door I could pull shut
after me,
that I was as safe
between pages
as between the clean sheets
of my bed at home.
The children in those books
were not like me.
They had the shine
of bravery or luck,
and their stories had endings.
But when Miss Colton called
"Yoo Hoo, Third Grade,"
and I had to come running,
the book suddenly
slippery under my arm, sometimes
those children ran with me.


"What are you doing,"
he asks, and I turn a page,
then another.
"Are you still reading?"
And I pile page
after page, like sandbags,
between us.
I'm going to tear
that book out of your hands,
he says, but I don't hear him,
the sound of pages turning
is like a far train approaching,
and Anna has just
entered the station.


When the time comes,
make my grave
with clean sheets
and a comforter of flowers.
If you come to call, rest
against the stone
which will lean
like a bookend
over my head.
Make yourself
at home there.
Read to me!

--Linda Pastan, Carnival Evening


  1. Anonymous2:36 PM

    i was just wondering if you knew where the title "Realms of Gold" came fom? It's a school assignment so it would be helpful if maybe you could post it up if you did know the answer... Thanks

  2. John Keats' "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer."


"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

Sherman Alexie cancels book tour for memoir about his mother.