Bedside table: Starting over with a slender book of poetry

“The pile of books on my bedside table had grown so high that it was almost taller than the lamp. I feared that a particularly brave late night visit from a cat could lead to disaster in the middle of the night. J needed to simplify! And when I cleared the bedside table, I felt like leaving in style. That’s when I remembered an amazing poem from 2021 in The New York Times Magazine by Carl Phillips titled “Pale Colors in a Tall Field”.

I had made a note to buy Phillips’ new book of the same name, but unfortunately that note went to the drawer of my brain where ambitious home improvement projects live (such as “I should really clean the basement” ), or some of those things I really want to do, but for some reason don’t (like finally visit Paris or buy a pair of red sneakers).

The sight of my bare nightstand prompted me to finally order Phillips’ “Pale Colors in a Tall Field” from Gulf of Maine Books. And now her slender grace sits next to my lamp and my clock. Phillips is a living American treasure – his poetic syntax soars in its strange complexity. I savored a poem or two each evening. And I’m under no illusions – I know that soon I’ll start piling another tottering pile of books on my bedside table.

JEFFERSON NAVICKY, Freeport


Mainers, please write to tell us about the book on your bedside table right now. In a paragraph or two, describe the book and be sure to tell us what attracted you. We want to know what you are reading and why. Send your selection to [email protected]and we may use it as a future bedside table.


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