Poems for a Lifetime
by Amy Abbott

The blue, hardback book Favorite Poems Old and News carries an inscription “To Amy LeNore, from Grammy and Grandpa, March 21, 1967.” A tiny orange sticker says Sandy Book Store, Clearwater, Florida, on the inside back cover.

My grandparents wintered in Florida and often brought books to my brother and me in Indiana. By age ten, I was a reader in my own right. My parents read to us, and each loved reading.

Now dog-eared and fragile, the book contained such riches that I read it again and again, opening cautiously like a museum window lined in velvet, showcasing precious stones.

In the anthology, I first discovered Teasdale’s “Barter,” Spend all you have for loveliness, Buy it and never count the cost. And, cummings, the queer old balloonman whistles far and wee and bettyandisbel come dancing. Longfellow, the Psalms, Wordsworth or Wallace Stevens. For half a century, my precious book is my go-to during times of joy and sorrow. I slip my hand into the museum case and choose a sparkling diamond or an emerald. I’m whisked off to Kipling’s world, or Thayer’s where there’s no joy in Mudville. I’ve wandered with Poe in his sepulcher by the sea or at the seashore with Robert Louis Stevenson.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I saw this prompt, I immediately knew I would write about the ragged blue book on my desk. Favorite Poems Old and New is among the first items I would grab if my house were burning down. It was easy to write about this book, as I have loved it for nearly 50 years.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amy Abbott writes two syndicated columns for Senior Wire News Service, including “A Healthy Age” (on senior health) and “The Raven Lunatic “(humor.) She is the author of multiple books, and is currently featured in These Winter Months: An Anthology of the Late Orphan Projectby The Backpack Press. The anthology features 25 writers discussing the loss of a parent. Amy lives in southern Indiana with her husband of 32 years.