Inheritance

by W. S. Merwin

inheritanceAt my elbow on the table
it lies open as it has done
for a good part of these thirty
years ever since my father died
and it passed into my hands
this 
Webster’s New International
Dictionary of the English
Language
 of 1922
on India paper which I
was always forbidden to touch
for fear I would tear or somehow
damage its delicate pages
heavy in their binding
this color of wet sand
on which thin waves hover
when it was printed he was twenty-six
they had not been married four years
he was a country preacher
in a one-store town and I suppose
a man came to the door one day
peddling this new dictionary
on fine paper like the Bible
at an unrepeatable price
and it seemed it would represent
a distinction just to own it
confirming something about him
that he could not even name
now its cover is worn as though
it had been carried on journeys
across the mountains and deserts
of the earth but it has been here
beside me the whole time
what has frayed it like that
loosening it gnawing at it
all through these years
I know I must have used it
much more than he did but always
with care and indeed affection
turning the pages patiently
in search of meanings.
.

“Inheritance” by W. S. Merwin, from The Shadow of Sirius. © Copper Canyon Press, 2008.
.

Bill Ellis and Graeme Hughes will read and discuss selections from W. S. Merwin‘s book, The Shadow of Sirius in our January 26 session.
.

Please note some minor changes in the schedule for 2017.
.

Should you choose to do so, you can now read the Roundhouse Poetry Circle blog in any one of 100 different languages through the Google Translate widget. Scroll to the bottom of the widget column on the right-hand side of the home page and select your preferred language, from Irish to Persian.

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