White Gloves is a regular column showcasing items from the L.R. Benes Rare Book Room. The L.R. Benes Rare Book Room features artist books, first editions, chapbooks, and broadsides, among many other treasures of literary significance. These holdings are searchable in the Poetry Center catalog and may be viewed by the public upon request during our open hours, Monday through Friday.
Everyone who enters the L.R. Benes Rare Book Room gravitates toward different books. For me, it's always been Naomi Shihab Nye's "Sometimes I Pretend..."
The box itself is whimsical, magical from its moving parts down to the pencil begging the reader to pull it out and see what's inside.
The poem inside also resonates... this is the dream, right? To only work for myself, to write poems and not worry about the laundry. The colors are the whimsy of pretend, but they also fade into seriousness. This is an imaginative exercise, but not a silly one.
I love how this book is, in some senses, a scroll. A long, old-fashioned work that took work to put together but was clearly a labor of love. This is one of the things the speaker wishes she could produce all the time.
And when I go to close it? Well, it feels right that this pure desire be kept safe inside a beautiful box, ready to be pulled out at any time.