|Sheldon Marsh, Huron, Ohio|
Summer vacation, at my family’s cottage on Lake Erie, used to be the time when I would get the most reading done. Out on the porch glider or down on the beach I’d sit with a book for hours, or any smaller stretch I got. Things change. Now, though still at Lake Erie, I have a husband and in-laws in town, and my own family includes two toddler nephews. And, since most of the year I’m 400 miles away, visiting takes precedence and—maybe for the first time—I didn’t read a single page during this year’s vacation.
I sound nostalgic, no doubt. But that’s a perfect segue into this week’s featured reading. Through editing work that I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been reminded of two poems that I am always surprised I like so much. But like them I do. They are simple and straightforward—not the types of work I usually like best—but there is a quality in each of having named something exactly. In an MFA world, you often hear teachers and writers talk about telling the truth in their work, and while that can quickly sound abstract and even a bit cliché, these poems are indeed reminders of the power of truth-telling in literature.
The first is Matsuo Basho’s 17th century haiku that goes
Even in Kyoto
Hearing the cuckoo’s cry
I long for Kyoto
I mentioned it to my husband recently, and he said, “Oh yeah, I know that feeling,” which seems to me a perfect explication. Any more would muddy the point.
And the other poem is Marie Howe’s “What the Living Do,” which you can read here.
I hope your summer reading is well and full, and next week I’ll be back on track with a post about Wuthering Heights.