"Do You Have Any Advice For Those of Use
Just Starting Out?"
- Ron Koertge
Give up sitting dutifully at your desk. Leave
your house or apartment. Go out into the world.
It's all right to carry a notebook but a cheap
one is best, with pages the color of weak tea
and on the front a kitten or a space ship.
Avoid any enclosed space where more than
three people are wearing turtlenecks. Beware
any snow-covered chalet with deer tracks
across the muffled tennis courts.
Not surprisingly, libraries are a good place to write.
And the perfect place in a library is near an aisle
where a child a year or two old is playing as his
mother browses the ranks of the dead.
Often he will pull books from the bottom shelf.
The title, the author's name, the brooding photo
on the flap mean nothing. Red book on black, gray
book on brown, he builds a tower. And the higher
he gets, the wider he grins.
You who asked for advice, listen: When the tower
falls, be like the child. Laugh so loud everybody
in the world frowns and says, "Shhh."
Then start again.
At the library the other night, not my usual library, but another, I heard the sound of running feet - going, going, going. I knew from the sound, the feet were small, maybe two years old, probably less. It was 8:30, dark outside, (cold and snowy, of course). I was surrounded by rows and rows of silent books, but there was the sound of little feet, more alive than any of those books. And there was the little boy, rounding the corner, running down one aisle, up the next, just smiling, and running, not even bothering to check whether any one was following him. What better reason to be in a library in winter than to throw caution to the wind and run? I do not think I have ever appreciated the story of The Little Gingerbread Boy quite the way I did that night. "Run. Run. As fast as you can. You can't catch me . . . " I gave up on the books completely. I just watched and listened. Then I went home and built a tower.