by | Jul 12, 2022 | Journal | 0 comments

Isn’t it amazing that you can hold an inanimate object made of papers that have black markings on them, papers earmarked, words underlined, scribbled notes in the margins, and this object, this book, becomes your best friend? You panic if you can’t find it among the hundreds on your bookshelf. Where is IT? you think as your eyes scan title after title, looking for that familiar binding with red letters. And then… there it is, waiting for you, like a good friend.


That’s what it’s like for me when I’m looking for one of my favorite books that I seem to have misplaced. It’s like misplacing an old friend. These are my Important Books. Books that have changed my life. My teachers. My healers. My inspiration.

When my husband died years ago, in a restaurant, just as we were beginning to have dinner with family and friends, it was, needless to say, a shock. For months afterwards, I was unable to watch t.v. or read a book or pray. His clothes were still in the closet, our cat Tigger still lay on his bed. There seemed to be no escape from the memory of that tragic night.

Then, one day, as I was driving home from Milwaukee, I decided to stop at Cedarburg and look around a bit. It was early and most shops were closed, however the little coffee shop on the corner was open. I entered, always on the lookout for a good cup of coffee. I ordered a latte and took it to a seat by the window overlooking the street. As I sat down in the morning light, I noticed stacks of books on the window ledge, invitations to sit and stay awhile. I randomly pick up a big white book entitled Poem A Day edited by Retto Bowen, Nick Temple, Nicholas Albery and Stephanie Wienrich…and randomly opened it to this page :

Near the wall of a house painted
To look like stone,
I saw visions of God.

A sleepless night that gives others a headache
Gave me flowers
Opening beautifully inside my brain.

And he who was lost like a dog
Will be found like a human being
And brought back home again.

Love is not the last room; there are others
After it, the whole length of the corridor
That has no end.
-Yehuda Amichai




I didn’t know what it meant and was surpised when I felt tears trailing down my cheeks. I read more that morning in the coffee shop. It was like reading a different language but on some level my soul understood and I felt comfort for the first time in months.

When I returned home, I ordered the book from Amazon. I devoured it, underlining lines and earmarking those poems I wanted to return to again and again. I started feeling better. It was like having a friend who understood what I was going through. I still couldn’t watch t.v., read a novel or find comfort in prayer. But I could read the poems. I decided to try to memorize a few as they calmed my mind as I was attempting to fall asleep at night. Then I started writing them on post-it notes and sticking them on the refrigerator door so I could refer to them during the day. Soon the door was covered in yellow notes full of poems. The healing had begun.

That was years ago and today I have a special bookshelf next to my bed devoted to poetry books, Upstream by Mary Oliver, Ten Poems to Set You Free by Roger Housden, Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins, etc. and the new edition of A Poem A Day, edited by Karen McCosker and Nicholas Albery, to name a few. I understand the poems better now. I trust the feeling that they impart to me. Sometimes they make me cry. Sometimes they make me laugh. It’s all very personal. A poem can mean something entirely different to each person reading it. Sometimes we can’t figure out what is being said. Other times, when the time is right, when we need it the most, the words penetrate our soul. These books of poems are not inanimate ( Webster dictionary: inanimate…not endowed with life or spirit). No, I would say poems are very animated messages and stories that touch our lives and spirits in powerful ways.

The years have passed. I am a widow. I have a dog. Today I enjoy watching t.v. again. I love to read novels. And I pray with a full heart.