Poets occasionally write to and about their readers while revealing themes close to the heart. Here are a few of my favorite poems of this type. Take a look.
“First, I would have her be beautiful,” pens Ted Kooser, in “Selecting a Reader,” “and walking carefully up on my poetry / at the loneliest moment of an afternoon […] wearing a raincoat, an old one, dirty / from not having enough money for the cleaners.” He suggests that although she may linger over a poem or two of his she realizes for the price of the book she could get her raincoat cleaned. “And she will,” he concludes. (I love the Midwest practicality of this poem.)
In “Pocket Poem” Kooser writes of a very special reader for whom he has written a verse that he has kept in his pocket so long it is permanently creased and worn. “What I wanted this / to say,” he writes his loved one, “was that I want to be so close / that when you find it, it is warm from me.” (Who hasn’t waited before declaring one’s feelings to a certain someone, wanting every single word and emotion to be exactly right?)
In “You, Reader,” Billy Collins compares himself and his reader to a salt and pepper shaker duo wondering if “they had become friends / after all these years / or if they were still strangers to one another / like you and I (reader and poet) / who manage to be known and unknown / to each other at the same time.” (Can we ever really know someone completely?)
And to his audience in a poem called “Eastern Standard Time” Collins describes a peculiar camaraderie based on his and their shared “slice of longitude.”
“Oh, fellow inhabitants of this singular band, /sitting up in your many beds this morning,” he writes, “consider those in other zones who cannot hear these words.” He ticks off line by hour the chronology of common activities of a special geographic demographic “(moving) together through the rest of this day / passing in unison from light to shadow.” (Don’t we all, deep down, long to belong?)
Reading these, I can’t help but think of verses written by the Divine Author. Like the poets, the Inspiration of inspirations also addresses precious themes, but unlike writers who may select a select few, God’s news is meant for all who choose “eyes to see and ears to hear.”
Like the poets, God inspired practical advice (in proverbial truisms), declarations of His love (in psalm, song, and story), and revelations of His nature and His knowledge (in proclamations and prophecies). And woven into every line—the scarlet thread of redemption.
God “scripted” His own Son in Word and in Flesh to illustrate the greatest love verse of all time that the lonely, the lovelorn, and the forsaken might have real hope. That they—we—might, like Collins’ time zone comrades, move from shadow to light, but in this case, from darkness into the Light that is the Light of the world (John 8:12).
The Poet of poets selects all those who select Him, all who long for understanding, belonging, and love. His poetry is for you and for me. And here’s a good opening stanza, the words exactly right and at just the right time from Someone Who knows us all too well, but, dear reader, loves us still:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever shall believe on Him shall not perish but shall have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Take a moment, along with me, to bask in His love and redemption today.
Art from public domain collection:http://www.google.com/images?q=public+domain+picture+of+books&rlz=1T4TSHB_enUS229US229&gs_upl=0l0l3l397936lllllllllll0&gs_l=heirloom-serp.3..0i30j0i22l4.16377.18991.0.193126.96.36.199.0.0.0.428.1303.2-2j1j1.4.0…0.0…1c.SZqGhVVJZEo&hl=en&sa=X&oi=image_result_group