Bone cold mornings like this sometimes bring on memories of a specific summer evening that’s been forgotten for a bit. Today, for reasons unexplained, I remembered a summer night a few years ago when we had visitors from far away at the table. One was a family member (D) who had brought along a friend (M) who we hadn’t seen in years. D—as he usually does—cooked up some mouth-watering artful vegetarian cuisine from findings in the garden and fridge. I recall that he sautéed watermelon and laid it atop the salad. Delectable. (I’m an unapologetic carnivore, but if D cooked for me every night I’d be willing to be a vegetarian.)
D & M told of their road trip and how the conversation had turned to poetry. D thought it was losing relevance in the 21st century and M disagreed. It killed a few hours of road trip to argue the point. We instantly jumped into M’s court. Good food aside, we love poetry and find it to be very relevant. I’d dare to say essential. Poor D barely knew what hit him. He had landed in a minefield. We have not a shelf, but a bookcase, devoted to poetry. We’re complete poetry geeks and addicts. Soon the table was piled with books and New Yorker magazines. Each of us paged through and found favorites to read out loud. Donald Hall’s poetic lines about lost cows out on the road, Billy Collins musings about jazz and beauty, Jane Kenyon’s bittersweet rhapsody about evening. We read poems into the gloaming and beyond. And it doesn’t take much more than this to warm a soul in the deep darkness of December.