Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gems from the Kailua Library Bookstore - Part One

Today, I put my beloved wife and children on an airplane headed to Hawaii. I’m not joining them because my next two blistering months are spent preparing for my company’s annual filing. I say ‘my company’, but it’s more like, ‘the company I work for’, lest you should I have delusions of grandeur.

My in-laws live on the windward side of the Island of Oahu in an idyllic little town called Kailua, recently made famous by the Obama family. Kailua is far from all the touristy nonsense of Waikiki so a visit there gives you the experience of authentic Hawaiian living.

The Kailua Public Library has its own used bookstore that I have to say is among my favorites on planet earth. So for a few of the next posts, as I’m thinking a great deal about the family in Hawaii – I’m going to share a few of what I’ll call: Gems from Kailua Library Bookstore.

I got this book last time I visited. There’s something incredibly accessible, honest and appealing about this poetry. The themes are consistent: nature, time, longing, heaven. Within each of these themes there are mysteries, joys and sorrows that these poets tried to dissect. Of course missing from the English translations is the added texture of original calligraphy and presentation, almost as important as the words themselves.

One poem, At Midnight by Li Po is my favorite, perhaps because it could have been written by any Irish Catholic:

Look: Moonlight shining on my bed. Or is it the white of frost?
Raising my head I see the moon over mountains.
Lowering it, I remember all my debts and errors.

What’s your favorite book store?

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