How Valuable It Is, in These Short Days

“…Meantime, I have started copying down, in a small blue book, the poems I know by heart.

Okay, but—why copy poems down if I have them by heart? The most immediate reason is that I forget, sometimes, which poems I know. There are more than the four or five things most humans can easily hold in mind at once. And no one else knows my mental library, so it’s not as if I have someone to prompt me with a title or a first line. Now I have this book.

Another reason is that someday I will die.

If I am very lucky, it will be when I am old and happy and finished living, and I will slip peacefully to rejoin earth and sky and river. It may not be like that. Regardless, I hope that someone I love is there when it happens, and I imagine, because our culture is terrible at death and also because death is just hard, that person may have a difficult time knowing what to say and do. I want them to have a ready helper: this book to read aloud (or at least the knowledge of it to rely on) to comfort both of us...”

…The book doesn’t have a title, but it has a quote on the flyleaf, a sparklet from The Florilegia Project, in fact: “how valuable it is, in these short days.” It’s from Molly Fisk’s graceful poem “Winter Sun”, which I discovered in this beautiful collection.

Through a combination of usefulness and inertia, the small blue book’s reference has become something like a name: the memory book.

This is the ongoing project it inspired, and here is the rest of the essay quoted above, the last installment in my creative practice column at Nicole Dieker dot com.

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If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with a friend. Something especially to value, in these short days.

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