What was I looking for in that room
Crowded with old books, shelves so full,
It seemed they could not hold another title,
Except where in places a weary volume
Leaned upon its neighbor’s crooked spine?
Some dimly remembered novel or poem
I once read and loved, or dreamed of?
Either a real book or the book of dreams
A friend once advised me to record:
Write upon waking, the dreams will come
If you wait and listen, word for word.
And night and day must be reconciled
Like mother and father, parent and child,
Brother and sister, lovers who have quarreled.
Although I never did as I was told,
I have met the morning every day I could,
Shaken the darkness, come to the table,
Truly grateful for what fare was offered,
Bran or manna, ambrosia or bread,
A sentence, a tragedy, or a kind word.
And now, almost sixty and an orphan –
As nature would have it — I am the age
My father was when he died. Every day
Seems to me it might be the final one.
Pressed for time to make peace with the past,
I look for a book so broad-backed and strong
That it will stand up on the shelf alone.