The deadline is looming for a contest I hope to enter. It is for women poets over the age of fifty-five. I need to submit a minimum of sixty pages of poems, one poem to a page. OK, I have more than enough poems. The question is, do I have enough good poems? As I look them over, it is just like walking into a shoe store and suddenly seeing one’s own shoes (which were fine a minute ago) as now hopelessly shabby and worn. I want to rewrite practically every one I read–which could, of course, end up badly.
I can’t even decide which poem ought to be on the first page. Oddly, I know the one I will put on the last page. Here it is. It should be last because it deals with last things, and because the title of this next book of poems is actually A Little-Known Book.
You must imagine that a book has a story to tell.
A Little-Known Book’s Last Request
It is not as though I came from
the printers’ only yesterday.
I know very well what becomes
of us when we are old: with luck,
we end up dog-eared, smudged, cookie
crumbs lodged in our spines, coffee cup
rings upon our covers. For some
little time we’re carried about,
insightful notations jotted
in our margins, parts of our text
underlined by the same reader
more than once, before a new book
comes along. Here at the thrift store
I hope for one more reader
and light to read by—this, although
it is enough to be well loved
and well thought of by just a few.