Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lists

I really don’t have favorite poems, any more than I have favorite children, but I do have one poem that I have carried in my calendar for years, one that I read and reread with joy every single time.  I’ve always loved Linda Pastan’s work—I read “Ethics” and wish I taught philosophy (and NOTHING else has ever made me wish I taught philosophy, let me tell you).  And her “Love Poem”! (Look! she and Neruda BOTH got away with writing “Love Poems”!  I’d never dream of trying!)  Pastan’s “Lists” though!  So many lovely images.  Such a wonderful idea, the list both worldly and transcendent.  A few lines from the middle of the poem:
And all the time the tree
is making its endless list
of leaves; the sky
is listing its valuables
in rain. My daughter
lists the books she means to read,
and their names are like the exotic
names of birds on my husband’s
life list.
I love the juxtaposition of the tree and the sky and the daughter and husband all making their lists.  I’m incredibly list oriented myself; I’ve made lists all my life—grocery lists, to-do lists, playlists.  In 2011 I started keeping a list of all the wonderful and funny and strange things my children say, and wow do I wish I’d started that one earlier.  But I am a very literal minded list maker, unlike Pastan.  Below, for your entertainment, are the books I was reading my last year of high school during my heavy science fiction and fantasy phase—don’t judge!  :)  When I read Pastan’s poems, though, I start to think maybe I should make a list of the titles of books I’ll never write, or the ones I wish someone would.  Pastan reminds me that lists are elegant little universes we draw on the backs of envelopes.  (Hey, I could use that in a poem!)