More Summer Reading

It was a less than perfect day today.  Maybe it’s the sudden turn from sun to gray here in San Francisco.  Could be the work I’m staying late tonight to finish contains, at its core, a story of people who seem to have not only no hope, but no hope of hope. 

Who knows what it is, but all day I’ve been hearing the phrase “grayed in and gray” in my head and so I went to see where it comes from, which means you plug that into the internets and you will find out, as I did, that it comes from a Gwendolyn Brooks poem called The Kitchenette Building. When I read it again I realized it was about circumscribed lives in which hope occasionally breaks out, even if not for long.  And that seemed like a good thing to have in one’s head on a not so great summer’s day.  Just one poem — that counts as summer reading too.

Kitchenette Building

We are things of dry hours and the involuntary plan,
Grayed in, and gray. “Dream” mate, a giddy sound, not strong
Like “rent”, “feeding a wife”, “satisfying a man”.

But could a dream sent up through onion fumes
Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes
And yesterday’s garbage ripening in the hall,
Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms,

Even if we were willing to let it in,
Had time to warm it, keep it very clean,
Anticipate a message, let it begin?

We wonder. But not well! not for a minute!
Since Number Five is out of the bathroom now,
We think of lukewarm water, hope to get in it.

Gwendolyn Brooks

3 thoughts on “More Summer Reading

  1. Lily, that photo is great! And I’m a big Gwendolyn Brooks fan. I met her when I was an undergraduate when she gave a special reading. She was sharp, funny, and very approachable.

  2. Lilian — I so agree. What is summer, if not the time you lounge around holding a slim volume of Byron and read aloud to your suitor (or maybe it’s the other way around) and drink tea.

    I love knowing you saw her when you were an undergrad, Mari. I heard her read once in Chicago, and I have admired her ever since.

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