American Life in Poetry: Column 191


Most of us love to find things, and to discover a quarter on the sidewalk can make a whole day seem brighter. In this poem, Robert Wrigley, who lives in Idaho, finds what’s left of a Bible, and describes it so well that we can almost feel it in our hands.

Finding a Bible in an Abandoned Cabin

Under dust plush as a moth’s wing,   
the book’s leather cover still darkly shone,   
and everywhere else but this spot was sodden   
beneath the roof’s unraveling shingles.   
There was that back-of-the-neck lick of chill   
and then, from my index finger, the book   

opened like a blasted bird.   In its box   
of familiar and miraculous inks,   
a construction of filaments and dust,   
thoroughfares of worms, and a silage   
of silverfish husks:   in the autumn light,   
eight hundred pages of perfect wordless lace.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2007 by Robert Wrigley, whose most recent book of poetry is “Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems,” Penguin, 2006. Poem reprinted from “The Hudson Review,” Vol. LIX, no. 4, Winter, 2007, by permission of Robert Wrigley. Introduction copyright © 2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.