I sing the book electric
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off until I take them with me, respond to them,
And read them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.
OK, my apologies to Mr. Whitman. I have no idea what LW thought she was doing when she mangled his poem like that. But I did have an idea what she planned to do when she left home with two canvas bags last Saturday: buy books. Yes, she is still in the midst of the massive BIO (Books In Order) project, so it would seem an odd time to be adding even more books to the stalagmites that turn every trip to the kitchen into an obstacle course. But for LW, there is no odd time when it comes to books, particularly when her son’s old elementary school, P.S. 87, is having their spring fair and the books are cheap and the day is fine.
In fact, as Fair Day often seems to be, it was one of the finest days of the season. Leaves, doubled in size from the week’s rain, were an electric green; the sky, a neon blue. Books, looking as earnest as orphans on Adoption Day, were spread out on tables in the dappled shade, waiting to be picked over and picked up.
To be honest, however, this year’s fair was not quite the book bacchanalia of years past. Some years it seems as if half the School’s parents works in Publishing, and those years are the best. But the Upper West Side is a bookish neighborhood, and LW never returns from the Fair empty-handed or, for that matter, under-fed.
And there were marvels to admire, such as rows upon rows of neatly boxed National Geographics, bright as a field of sunflowers.
I am surprised and almost regret that she was able to resist these two sleeves of maps.
In the end, she came away with a hefty pile of books for the less than the cost of one new hardcover.
Back at home, she performed her Fair Day ritual of removing the books from her bags one by one, lingering over each in turn. It is a ritual preferably carried out on just such a summery day, with just such breezes caressing the curtains, and with just such a glass of iced tea at hand as was had.
It is a ritual that inspired my own Whitmanesque riff:
THERE was a woman went forth every day;
And the first book she look’d upon, that book
And that book became part of her for the day,
or a certain part of the day, or for many years,
or stretching cycles of years.