pith, noun, [pith]

  1. soft or spongy tissue in plants or animals, in particular: spongy white tissue lining the rind of an orange, lemon, and other citrus fruits; the spongy cellular tissue in the stems and branches of many higher plants.
  2. the essence of something.
  3. forceful and concise expression.

Here’s a brief anecdote about living with poems: a few years ago, when I was thumbing through a book of Shakespeare at some dingy bookstore, I came upon Sonnet 73. Right then and there, without any deep understanding of what the poem was about, I decided to memorize it. Years later, it’s become the one of the few full-length poems that I have tucked inside the recesses of my memory, and perhaps as a result, it’s a beloved one.

There’s something intimate about knowing a poem by heart. Take e.e. cummings’ “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in],” but imagine that the “you” subject isn’t referring to another person—imagine that it refers to a poem.

(I carry a poem with me. I carry it in my heart).