This one slays me. It is, of course, at least partially because I remember exactly where I was (who I was becoming) when I read Catcher in the Rye for the first time. From Billy Collins’ marvelous poem, Marginalia:
And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake’s furious scribbling.
Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents’ living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page
A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
“Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.”
What genius is this to move from Joshua Reynolds and William Blake to “egg salad stains, but I’m in love”?
Read the entire poem here.