Reading Woundedly (poem)

(for Marilyn & Jamie)

By J.S. Porter

You can’t read deeply unless you’re wounded deeply, unless night is
falling and the sun may never rise.

When you read woundedly, you know what adds to the wound:
stay away from Nietzsche if you’re in your teens, stay away from
Nijinsky’s diaries unless you can enter madness and come out the other end,
stay away from Edmond Jabes’ Book of Questions,
the word brambled, the word as the only House of Being.

When I was growing up in Oxford Mills and Cardiff, I had few friends.
I dreamt and slept and imagined and read, not very much, but enough.
My father was away at school, he was a reader, he had a library.
I read to be close to him.

When I look at photographs of readers by Harvey Fickle, I see:
a little boy walking a city street reading a comic; a woman reading in the subway while a train whizzes by; a woman reading in an empty square; a man reading in an empty restaurant.

I’m the little boy reading the comic, the woman at the station waiting for the word, the man and woman surrounded by emptiness. I read to fill my emptiness - I read to patch my wounds.

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