“The pile of books on my bedside table had grown so tall it was almost taller than the lamp. I was worried that an especially-spunky nocturnal visit from a cat would lead to a middle-of-the-night disaster. I needed to simplify! And when I cleared the bedside table, I wanted to restart with elegance. That’s when I remembered an astonishing poem from 2021 in The New York Times Magazine by Carl Phillips entitled ‘Pale Colors in a Tall Field.’

I had made a note to buy Phillips’ new book of the same name, but unfortunately that note went into the drawer of my brain where aspirational home improvement projects live (such as ‘I really should clean out the basement’), or some of those things I really do want to do, but for some reason, I don’t (like finally visit Paris, or buy a pair of red sneakers).

The sight of my bare bedside table inspired me to finally order Phillips’ ‘Pale Colors in a Tall Field’ from Gulf of Maine Books. And now its slender grace sits sparsely next to my lamp and clock. Phillips is a living American treasure – his poetic syntax soars in its strange complexity. I’ve been savoring a poem or two each night. And I hold no illusions – I know soon I’ll start to accumulate another teetering pile of books on my bedside table.”


Mainers, please email to tell us about the book on your bedside table right now. In a paragraph or two, describe the book and be sure to tell us what drew you to it. We want to hear what you are reading and why. Send your selection to [email protected], and we may use it as a future Bedside Table.

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