Mason Cooley said, " Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are."
Allen had just finished reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016). He handed me the book and said, "You must read this."
How can I not fall in love with a story that begins with a poem, followed immediately by a short transcript of the trial of Count Rostov in 1922 that ends with a threat? The Count must remain ‘quarantined’ in the Metropol Hotel or be shot.
I remember very little of Russian literature now, though I read the greats, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, among others, many years ago. But, I digress. For by page 40 of A Gentleman in Moscow, I am fully immersed in this story of a Count who wrote a very long poem, “Where Is It Now?” in 1913. His poem inspired Russian revolutionaries. But as a former aristocrat, the Count is now reduced to living in a single room at the very top of this grand old hotel, and the reader is left uncertain about what will happen next.
A visitor asks if the Count will continue to write. The Count replies, “I am sorry to say, Konstantine, that my days of poetry are behind me.”
Konstantine stops at the door to reply. “If your days of poetry are behind you, Count Rostov, then it is we who are sorry.”
Ah, perfect, really perfect. These kinds of poignant moments fill the Count's story. For who can say what we leave behind us in our current time of chaos? I am drawn right into reading this lovely book. Check it out of your local library or read a snippet on Amazon. And that's what's on my current stack of books to-be-read.
Now to the poetry. Writing poetry seems at the whim of some internal muse I do not know well but appreciate every time an idea turns into poetry. Here's one that came along in August.How do we remember our friends?
I wake up, dreaming of you, your study,
an imaginary garden of words,
the walls lined with poetry you chose,
an invitation to reflection,
the letters carefully drawn and
rounded with pale, blue ink,
three poems filled up one wall,
and there, by the window,
one I had sent you.
Impossible to be in that room
without falling into memory,
all those days of reading and writing,
alone and not alone.
Even now I can close my eyes
and see the letters dancing.