A Poet Recalls Fiction

Norm Sacuta

I have trouble with friends who want to know what happened.
And no, I’m not missing the forest for the trees -
The genus, size and shape,
even when the author cares enough,
will escape me later, become a forgotten shadow
at the edge of the moors.

I am the worst witness of another witness,
read pages and pages without memory
of a character’s features.
My rhythmic eyes remember little,
move away from that tape by the door
where I should measure the criminal’s height.
What difference does that make?
He robbed me, I might tell the officer.
Isn’t that enough?

What’s a character? It’s every fear of every name
ever introduced to at parties,
crammed into The Tenant of Windfell Hall.
Thank god for Anna Karenina and Jane Eyre.
The title and name the same.

Let me tell you about Jane Eyre:

there’s lightning that cleaves a tree directly in two
on the night she decides to marry. That man. The dark one
who talks roughly and has dark eyes so dark his first born
reflects back out of them. That’s Jane Eyre.
That’s all.

Don’t ask me for more. I don’t know
once the book is down. But open it again:
I know that point in the forest -
breadcrumbs lead home in all directions. There is no place
lost quite like it. I read pages and pages, enthralled,
then forget my way as the moon sets.

And isn’t it glorious to know every word will rush at me,
like that mad woman from the attic,
when I read again tomorrow night.