The Company They Keep

Books. The company they keep. Each other and me. I lie in bed and know where this book and that book are. Will be a problem when I move to the apartment in Orvieto. And to think I had made a list of books with which shelf, which room, they were in.  I shall have to put some shelves near the bed in Orvieto so that I can reach out and take a book as I lie and wait for my mind to wander into that land of no thoughts and sleep or for Teah to say it is time to get up. Like Pessoa’s poems. “Countless lives inhabit us. I don’t know, when I think or feel, Who it is that thinks or feels. I am merely the place “Where things are thought or felt.”

I read one, understand it, or at least think I do, and think how much more it strikes home than the convoluted poetry people write nowadays.

Or there’s Modiani down on the bottom shelf and I am once more following him as he looks in vain for the woman he knew, or for his own identity. There’s De Waal but it’s his descriptions of working with clay, of feeling the edge of a pot, that entrance me more than his biographical notes.

The room is dark but my books are there, keeping each other company. Aciman glows knowing he’ll be picked up more than once. And some, like the novel by a woman who is married to an author in NY,  will go to the library where hopefully someone will want her book and his as friends. Oh yes I remember now. It’s Siri Hustvedt and Auster.

My Gentleman from Moscow roams through his hotel and I can follow his every step. I know he would like the morning light as the sun rises up from behind the hills. There’s that slender book of poems  by Jane Hirshfield, “Only when I am quiet for a long time and do not speak do the objects of my life draw near”. How much to learn from her as she sits next to Eliot’s Practical Cats. My cat had a much simpler name  than his – Brutus. Of course there is also Neruda’s Odes to Wine. Not to mention my classics, Montale, Quasimodo, many in Italian.

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