Piled on a chair in front of me is a stack of books about 2.5 feet tall. The topics in these books range from Nuclear Engineering to Great Speeches in History—the former being about the principals of nuclear reactors and the later being Will Safire’s collection of presidential speeches. So much of the Presidency since 1945 has been occupied with things nuclear that the two books seem oddly connected in my mind.
On the tip of the wobbly stack is a yellowing paperback of poems by Wallace Stevens: The Palm at the End of the Mind. The collection, edited by his daughter Holly Stevens, includes the short poem Tea that was originally published in 1923 in Stevens’ first book Harmonium.
When the elephant’s-ear in the park
Shrivelled in frost,
And the leaves on the paths
Ran like rats,
Your lamp-light fell
On shining pillows,
Of sea-shades and sky-shades
Like umbrellas in Java.
While I usually find Stevens too obscure a poet for me to enjoy, this poem gives me a pleasant feeling of autumn, which no doubt totally misreads the poem.
As I think of my little books scurrying away like the leaves in Stevens’ poem, I’m at a loss for words.
Deaccessing 20 books; The deaccession count: Posts 18, Books 121.