Deep Reading “On the Wing”

Tam Lin Neville is the author of the full-length book of poems, Journey Cake (BkMk Press, l998).  Her second collection, Triage, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press.  Her poems and reviews have appeared in Harvard Review, Mademoiselle, American Poetry Review, Ironwood, and Threepenny Review.  Co-editor of Off The Grid Press, she also works for Changing Lives Through Literature as teacher and administrative assistant.

I know that my title is an oxymoron, but I wrote it this way because many of my most memorable reading experiences have come when I was traveling, free of all daily encumbrances.  Here is one particular scene:  The month was December; I was traveling by bus from NYC to a small town in upstate NY where my family lived.  The bus, luckily, was actually three hours late due to snow that began in Albany.  I was rereading one of my favorite childhood books, The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett.

Because of the delay, I was able to read the whole story in one sitting, turning the last page just as the bus pulled into Keene Valley’s one gas station, the local Greyhound stop in that small Adirondack town.

On that bus ride, while reading The Secret Garden, I was able to exchange one world for another.  Instead of the musty, lived-in air of the bus, I found myself in an enclosed, overgrown garden, where the air was fresh and cool in early spring.

“It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place anyone could imagine.  The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick that they matted together . . . .No wonder it’s still, Mary whispered, I am the first person who has spoken in here for ten years.

I fell headlong into the garden’s dark history and then slowly, the brighter story that comes to replace it.   This is what I call “deep reading.”  For reasons too mysterious to analyze, you find yourself lost for hours, deeply embedded in another time and place. My particular experience of deep reading, “on the wing,” is like travel within travel.

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