If you borrow this book…
Matt L. Rohrer over at We Who Are About To Die invited some people to to write about books which mean a lot to them–not the stories/poems/images in the books, but the books themselves. The idea is “if you borrow this book, you have to return it.” Well, the book I’m going to write about doesn’t exactly qualify, but only because I wouldn’t let anyone borrow it, ever.
I came into contact with Mr. Cummings in my junior year of high school, Ms. McKee’s class. We’d been dragging ass through US Lit, grumbling and moaning the whole way when Ms. McKee, in what I presume was an act of desperation, started writing “in Just-“ on the chalkboard. She didn’t remember it completely, and she didn’t have room to fit it all on there, but I saw and heard “mud-luscious” and “bettyandisbel” and the “goat-footed balloonman” and I was done. I had to read more.
There wasn’t much in the way of bookstores in Slidell, Louisiana in 1986, but I went to the one there was and ordered (paid in advance) the book you see in that photo. I devoured that book from the day I picked it up. I remember seeing some of the poems in that book and saying “you can do that?” and thinking I wanted to do that. I spent the next few years trying to emulate Cummings, and while I’m glad I outgrew that desire, I’ve never stopped loving what his work meant to me at that moment.
It was the first book of poems I ever bought, and I’ve never lent it out. It’s come with me through every move, every failed and successful relationship, every facet of my life. It’s not the oldest book I own, but it is the book that means more to me than any other. I do believe that if my house was on fire, I’d jam that book in my waistband while running to save Amy and the cats and get them to safety.
Okay, I’d wake Amy up first and then grab the book. I know my priorities.
What book do you love like that? Maybe this could be that book for you.
Was that pathetic? I’m trying to be good at this begging-people-to-buy-my-book thing, but I can never tell.