I Read Books While Time Burrows Into Me.


William Blake’s forests at night, Poe’s demon in view… and it occurs to me how remembered phrases of poetry connect memories like a string of oyster pearls.

I squeeze lemon over them and taste salt, long to taste a lover’s sweat, salt and tear.

I have been wondering why I burrow like some small ground-dwelling animal in fear. I fear more now than I ever did back then. Still somehow I wrestle with the notion, the inner belief system, that fear mummifies the living and I do not wish to die while I am still alive.

I read books, those books mention other books and quote poems and picture art, and I am led through streets and back roads and alleys lit like trash cans on fire. Constellations illuminated windows in high rise apartments.

A train is the books I’ve read, leading me to other stops: faith, belief, love and me.

Books, my earliest friends and most loved teachers, their authors inadvertently recommending to me new ways of thinking, and suddenly I’ve been shaped the way printmakers lay out letters and pour the ink. I am type-set. Stamped. Like a stationary satellite blinking near the moon, or a bird so high up it looks as if it doesn’t move.

Oh how my body moves, sloshes around like ocean against hull and starboard I head home.

Familiar phrases found like treasure in books — ruby and sapphire bring me back to myself, and I remember what it was like to be childlike and the fear dissipates like humidity off rooftops after the summer thunder and sweet rain.

The neighbor girls are laughing, and my sister and I utter exact phrases at the same time. I am alive. The same age as Sylvia, and while at times the weight of all of this has me seeking the burrow of the rabbit or the mole, I know the oven is not a portal out and I remain whole.

I still want for the heat of the sun. Let it freckle my ageing skin, I want memory to etch in where the wrinkles begin and tattooed phrases will anchor me like Claire said, “holy as i will be, possessed as i am.”

Look how we are made holy by everything that connects us. Lamplight posts at rural bus stops calling to us.

Home is the traversing veins inside of us, how we travel our own currents and find what beats.

I have been asking myself lately what makes me. I forget often what made me. I reread books and the phrases I underlined at different times in my life. I add margin notes like markers on a highway. Some sentences like directions to secret spots. Hidden groves of me shaded by things that aren’t mine.

I keep looking for the sun, unaware of the heat I cast off my own body like a lizard on a rock in a valley. That I am searching blindly in a dark room for a light switch, unaware I am the incandescent bulb.

When did I start thinking soon my filament would burn out?

I am more deep-rooted than that. Where I seek to burrow I also wish to expand like roots, books become a flowerbed. Watering my trunk, and don’t you know how long it takes for the seedling to become the giant oak?

Olivia told us we “have so much beautiful time.”

Most books I own do not finish with the end. It seems to me, like life itself, a great work simply trails off, like forgotten phrases. How they come back around, a memory, remembered when truly needed!


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Alise Versella
Alise Versella is a poet living at the Jersey Shore. She has published three volumes of poetry which can be found at her website, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. Her work has been featured on Elephant Journal, Women's Spiritual Poetry blog,, The Tattooed Buddha, and of course here. She considers herself a coffee enthusiast and self-proclaimed dessert whore, who believes with every fiber of her being that poetry, beautiful poetry, can come from the ugliest of pain. Poetry can be the salve for all the broken parts, and it can make us whole.
Alise Versella
Alise Versella