The people they were cropping for kept a dump behind the big house
where she went sometimes to rummage through the trash
for pages fallen from their bindings, bits of children’s stories
or a fragment of a novel, travelogues that began and ended
miles before their destination, and whatever the dump
had left still readable she took back home under her skirt
and hid beneath a board as counterpoison to the after-supper Bible
he was always cursing her with, calling her a child
of the devil and burning any book she ever brought into the place,
and nights when he was snoring she would slip from the bed
to spread those pages out beside a candle, piecing together
as best she could some remnant of a tale or journey, reading the words
over and over, until she held them shining in her memory,
then lie back down and put herself to sleep again by dreaming all the pages lost.
Henry Lyman’s work has appeared in The Nation, New England Watershed, The New York Times, Poetry, Talking River, TQ, and other periodicals. He edited Robert Francis’s posthumous collection Late Fire, Late Snow and an anthology of New England poetry, After Frost, and has published two books of translations. For twenty years he hosted Poems to a Listener, a radio series of readings and conversation with poets. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, and serves as a trustee of Fort Juniper and an executor of Robert Francis’s literary estate.