Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday Poem: The Bookshop

people come to buy a book
but really they want to say : 

they have two brilliant sons
they have a dying wife
they have a daughter who needs a cake sent in a box
they have a friend who cannot hold a book
they have a grand-daughter so small and sick
they forgot a coat
they have a broken hip
they have an assignment due
they had to fix the leaks
they missed their flight
they will sell their house
that their ex is playing up
that things are tight
that the day is unseasonably bright

that they worry, that they need, 
that they notice, that they're loved

and the book? oh not today
tomorrow, definitely tomorrow, when 

the day's less bright, things are less tight, the ex
is playing less, the house is sold, they get their flight,

the leaks are fixed, the assignment done, the hip 
mended, the coat picked up, the grand-daughter well
(bless her),

the friend better, the cake eaten, 
the wife cured, the sons more ordinary 

then, then


                                                                Mary McCallum 

This is just a bit of fun. I work in a bookshop one day a week. I treasure it - it's a day of communing with books and with the people who walk in off the street. Some of the conversations blow me away. The stories. The power. The suffering. The weight some people bear. The way love seems to slide in somehow whatever we're discussing. We talk about books too, of course. And sometimes I sell a few. 


Elisabeth said...

What a pleasure, to work in a book shop where people come ostensibly to buy books, to enter into other people's lives and in so doing they share with you their lives.

Thanks for a beautiful post.

T. said...

Oh oh oh! I love this, Mary! I can only imagine where these stories will be told when all books go digital....

Some years back, I had the good fortune to be a bakery/cafe owner, and my favorite thing about it was the people, ever-intriguing, lovely, loving, each splashed with his or her own unique color.

This poem also points out the need each of us has to tell our story. We, as poets, are fortunate to have our own venue, as it were!

maggie@at-the-bay.com said...

Yes, so true and such a privilege too - although I have heard it said by a friend who works in the check-out at a supermarket, that she receives the same lovely assortment of confidences. Perhaps it is the strange perceived anonymity of retailer and customer that brings this about... the transaction, a purchase, your change, plus the exchange. Off to work now to receive some of that and hopefully sell a few books too

susan t. landry said...

all us book (shop) lovers... this wonderful, seemingly off-the-cuff, but not quite so, poem awakens us!
thank you, mary.
i, too, have worked in several bookstores, my favorite was a Christmas job i had for several while in college, selling children's books in a wonderful old-fashioned children's store in Boston, MA. everyone walked out happy.

Helen Lowe said...

Love the rhythm of it, Mary, and even though I am sometimes wary of repetition, I think it works in this poem--and the poem so puts me in mind of that speech given by poet Glenn Colquhoun to the Medical Assn (I think) last year, where he said that most of the people who come to see him as a GP so often really have "the ache" (of life--for which there is no cure). Except perhaps, in bookshops and Tuesday Poems... :-)

harvey said...

A lovely piece of writing and observation. I can visualise the scene. Tou've caught the feel of it very accurately

For several months I worked at the check-out counter of the old Cantebrury university (now the earthquake-damaged Arts Centre. There were the same conversatins and revelations.

maggie@at-the-bay.com said...

Okay, so far this morning, a lost eftpos card, a tapestry bag that was a gift because the friend disliked her other bag... a lady who loves cats...a conversation about a local school teacher who has lost a lot of weight, Mother Theresa and Christopher Hitchens... a man who has never read but now aged 70 has begun devouring them whole - where else would you get such fine conversations? :)

Mary McCallum said...

Get back to work Maggie!!! But yes, shops - small local shops whether they sell books or lamb chops are about the community listening... I was just at the butcher's this morning telling Barry about what happened with my son's girlfriend (he asked). How can that happen in a huge hyper-lit supermarket? (hate them)

Thank you everyone for your reactions to the poem - really appreciated. Everything in it has been said to me at one time or another in the bookshop - some of the revelations do really squeeze the heart while others make me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! I recognise some of those people in your bookshop, sometimes I've been one of them.

lillyanne said...

I love this Mary - and I'm sending a link to the two people I know who run bookshops.

AJ Ponder said...

Ah, the bookshop. So many different places for so many different people.

(Bless you)