Now, there are some of you who may be unaware that the Newberry sends a Valentine every year to a select group of friends and/or donors. I do not, myself, fully understand the formula which sets up the list of recipients, but as long as I don’t have to sit down and stick Love stamps on ‘em, I can remain in blissful ignorance.
These are not ancient Valentines from some job lot of, say, Davy Crockett school Valentines donated around 1954. These are made up fresh every year by choosing an image from the truly amazing collection of old Valentines the Newberry owns, and then embellished by a bit of verse. I, ahem, know the poet who produces this confection every year, and I am amazed at his versatility, if not necessarily his verse. (Hint: it’ll be embarrassing if I win the Pulitzer for Blogging and the Pulitzer for Poetry the same year.)
One of the drawbacks, of course, is that I cannot send a Valentine to every customer and/or donor at the Book Fair. A Valentine for the customers would perhaps be a bit foolish, what with the Fair happening in July and all (I‘m either seven months late or five months early). But people have been dropping off books even in the consistently nasty weather, and I think a bit of verse appropriate to the day would not come amiss.
AND, as an added bonus, I have more space here than I ever do on the card, so I can indulge in sonnet-writing. (I used to write sonnets regularly—medical science doesn’t know why iambic pentameter comes easily to some people—but I curbed this habit the year the judges of a sonnet contest awarded me their first ever “Please Don’t Ever Do This Again” award. Surely the statute of limitations has expired.)
I any case, here is my tribute to all you Valentines out there who braved the frigid blast in the name of libraries everywhere.
You braved the driving snow and made your way
To bring those bags and boxes for the Fair
And honked the horn of your old Chevrolet
To let me know that you were waiting there.
Ah, Valentine, as I drew back the locks
And swung the door out to behold your gift!
(A Ya-Ya or The Help in every box)
I took them to the dock; yet you were miffed.
“I need those boxes back,” you told me, “Sir,
I cannot let my darling cardboard go.”
I smiled a frozen smile and answered, “Sure!”
But what I murmured next, you’ll never know.
And then I waited in the snow and sleet
As you filled in each line of your receipt.