American Life in Poetry: Column 191


Most of us love to find things, and to discover a quarter on the sidewalk can make a whole day seem brighter. In this poem, Robert Wrigley, who lives in Idaho, finds what's left of a Bible, and describes it so well that we can almost feel it in our hands.

Finding a Bible in an Abandoned Cabin

Under dust plush as a moth's wing,

the book's leather cover still darkly shown,

and everywhere else but this spot was sodden

beneath the roof's unraveling shingles.

There was that back-of-the-neck lick of chill

and then, from my index finger, the book

opened like a blasted bird. In its box

of familiar and miraculous inks,

a construction of filaments and dust,

thoroughfares of worms, and a silage

of silverfish husks: in the autumn light,

eight hundred pages of perfect wordless lace.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2007 by Robert Wrigley, whose most recent book of poetry is "Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems," Penguin, 2006. Poem reprinted from "The Hudson Review," Vol. LIX, no. 4, Winter, 2007, by permission of Robert Wrigley.  Introduction copyright (c) 2008 by The Poetry Foundation.  The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.  We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.