In a recent letter, a friend told me he’s reading the English translation of a diary by Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz, an 800-page tome published in 2012 by Yale University Press. He found it in Santa Barbara, at a bookstore named Chaucer’s. Naturally, I would like to have a copy, although I probably wouldn’t get around to reading it for thirty years. I’ll be ninety-two then. Will I still be able to see? Will the book have to be buried with me? More importantly, should I spend twenty-three dollars, when what we really need is a new faucet for the kitchen sink? Faucets or books — the choice is clear. We were in a hardware store a few days ago. We looked at faucets. They were hopeless. But we didn’t leave empty-handed. On the way out, we passed through the nursery section and bought a package that contained twenty bulbs — a beautiful mixture of hyacinths. Flowers make sense in a way faucets never can. And you can read them like poems or books. They are poems. Faucets are stale criticism, spigots of despair, a form of pointless popularity while the entire world is longing for a graceful, misty ballet of purple-and-pink hyacinths.
Like a Flower
I was trying to think like a flower
when she found me
and shivered so
Poems, Slightly Used, March 9, 2009
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