I am racing through the stack of books beside the bed. Today I put down The Mays of Ventadorn and scooped up Stirring the Mud, pausing for a bit of coffee in between. Both books are discursive memoirs, both by writers, and both explore the idea of land reflecting through a writer's mind and becoming grammar and verse.
The traces of thought in Stirring have a more personal feel, with the writer deriving her ideas and building an alien imagination out of the ground of her present habitation. It is a vacation from my own imagination, tangled as it has become. As I read, I rub the cover of the book with each shift and slide the paper cover in to mark my place as I pause to let my eyes rest.
Distracted from the bones of a short story, the text before me wavers and fades. I am still reading, but softly. There is another image growing in the verge of my own imagination, a comfortable closet of a Half-Price Books, the one down near the city where we used to shop before we moved out here in the suburbs that have soaked all the way out the highways to beyond the airport. Did this book come from that bookstore?
We shopped there because it was cheap but also because it was homey, wooden shelves, alcoves, and sections that spilled out into smaller shelves along the walls. It was a place that had toys and blankets along the top of the shelves. Once, it also had a book on weaving dog fur. I should have bought it; I carried it a bit, then left it behind.
Because of that one book, Wynn is also here, snoozing at the edge of my thoughts. He was a American Eskimo, standard size at 40 lbs. and a master at producing free-roaming fur clumps. I could have a scarf of his softness against my neck, had I the wit to realize that a random find is a treasure only once lost.
It was easy to say to myself that I neither spin nor knit and wouldn't have learned just becuase of a fuzzy dog. That first small denial, the refusal to be curious, was enough to bar the way. Soon enough we had moved from that area, north as I had once fervently hoped. We live within an easy drive of two Half-Price Books, neither of which feel like welcoming hideouts for interesting books and my curiousity is blunt anyway, having been dashed again and again after the same shallow interests and short travels.
Wynn isn't curled around my neck and the words, into which I had relaxed, have scattered into silence like the frogs in Stirring the Mud. I will finish it soon and slip the paper covers back into their proper places. I will not think about the casual ease of the words to turn the mould of my own stagnant imagination. There are other books on the shelves.