Today I was lucky enough to see the British/Spanish co-production (oddly…a terribly, terribly English film!), The Bookshop.
This beautiful movie, based on the novel by Penelope Fitzgerald, inspired today’s humble, poetic offering.
Far from finished, this is more a series of notes for a poem. Or possibly a prose-poem.
Funnily enough, in the way these things often go, after seeing the film and deciding on today’s poem, I read my latest Utne email update and found this article:
This work, unfinished and clumsy as it is, comes from the heart. I have been a “woman who reads” from a very young age. Books are one of my great passions. If I could never read again, I think I would lose most of my joy in living (my wonderful children aside). On the dating scene it has often been difficult for me to find a “man who reads”. Or at least a man who can understand and love a woman who reads.
They’re as rare as a first edition Barbara Pym.
Now that I’ve got this done, I can curl up in bed and finish My Absolute Darling.
A WOMAN WHO READS
Eat dinner with a woman who reads.
As she cooks she will regale you with stories of Elizabeth David.
Stirring the pot of steaming Irish Stew , she will lose contact with the outside world, reading Yeats with one hand whilst the other slowly turns and turns with the wooden spoon she bought in a junk-shop along with a second-hand copy of French Provincial Cooking.
Dance with a woman who reads.
As you take her in your arms, she will envision Russian cotillions and imagine herself Natasha and you Pierre. She will hear the distant sound of cannon-fire booming behind the strains of balalaikas. Her sense of urgency as Napoleon marches on Moscow will drive you to set fire to old buildings and food-stores.
Walk with a woman who reads.
She will take you along unknown laneways populated with restless souls crying out to be heard. Each by-way will be laid out in lines and stanzas. She will surprise you with random enjambments and classical allusions. Stroll with her all the way to Innisfree. Or wander along half-deserted streets. She will dare you to eat a peach.
Fuck a woman who reads.
Know that when she clears the books off the bed, she is yours for the night. She has learnt the erotic arts from Lawrence, Nabokov and Angela Carter. Play your cards right and she may show you her wings. Know that she has assimilated all the passion, all the fervour of each character who has lived with her, albeit briefly, since she first picked up Dick and Dora and Nip and Fluff. She is no hand-maid
Fall in love with a woman who reads.
Each time she turns a page, she will surprise you. The arc of her life is a journey few are privileged enough to witness. Notice the way she strokes the binding; inhales the smell of the new and the old; engages all her senses in this act of trust and vulnerability. Fall in love with her mind, her imagination, her unrelenting joy in the possibilities constantly available to her on her bookshelf.
Then build her a new bookcase.
So she will fall in love with you too.