I’ve been adopted by a poem. By a line in a poem. And by a small entry on the flyleaf of the book where my poem lives.
Tuesday last, I’m lying on a grassy bank in Crescent park, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, rereading Wendy Morton’s Shadowcatcher. I pause at the flyleaf and find my direction, my dedication.
All books have flyleaves. Andrea told me that the flyleaf is one of the greatest of inventions. It hadn’t occurred to me but she’s right. Flyleaves give you a place to pause, to gather yourself for just a moment. They give you time to let your eyes adjust to the light, to sip wine before the meal. Otherwise a book begins too abruptly leaving you no personal space.
But the flyleaf is also the perfect place for a short hand written note, a thought, a personal dedication. I have this in Shadowcatcher. It says, to Stephen, "who waltzes in and out of what matters."
That afternoon, when I read my poem, and dreamt again of waltzing in and out of what matters, the fountain in the crescent watercourse turned bright blue.
You say I’m dreaming. And I say, "Of course, but it also happened just as I say."
And while the blue was spouting bright a swan swam by, and a couple walked by, arms linked, looking into the baby carriage they were pushing, and some kids were throwing bits of bread on the water."
Everyone needs a poem." For Wendy Morton, who commits random acts of poetry, this is close to a mantra.
I think, as well, everyone needs to see their name applied to the front of a book. A dedication, a declaration that you are here, and it matters.
Everyone needs a poem. Here’s mine:
Everyone needs a poem.
And so when I came to the last poem in "Shadowcatcher," I left the grassy bank and waltzed down to a park bench, deciding to read it to the first person who happened by. It was a lady, white hair, seventy-five years old I guess.
I get her attention by asking her if anyone has ever read her a poem. She said, "Not once, never." I ask her if I could read her a poem. She smiles slow, and says, "Sure, yes, why not."
I read her "The Path." It’s a poem of ordinary memories of the land, of home, of old countries, of connections.
As I read I’m aware of my own odd excitement. When I finish I look up; she’s been smiling. I tell her I’ve just committed a random act of poetry. She smiles broadly and says, "Thank you," and continues on down the path.