How many own books
on which they’ve never cracked a spine,
holding on to whatever’s inside
as if these were precious eggs
made to keep their secrets.
One day they become bored
with the look of shiny unread words
on their shelves and they purge.
All those books go to the donation bin.
Someone else will take them in:
me, probably. They all come to my house
in stacks and stay in stacks near the bed,
on shelves, under the nightstand.
One day I’ll break those books open
and let their music and their words free
to slip out and slide around inside me
or hover in the air of the kitchen
while the chicken browns in the frying pan
and I stare at the refrigerator shelves
looking for something to go with it,
something not there. There is often
nothing there, or nothing fresh, nothing
appealing. This is where we are now,
I tell myself. I think of all I’ve let down.
I imagine loved ones, who if they could see me,
would frown. At least I have the words
to describe this, I tell myself. At least
I’ve had the books and the space for the books
and their words and music, learned enough from them
for this poverty dance to be seen and heard
and understood. Wasn’t that enough?
Comfort and joy aren’t meant for some of us.
Maybe I was born to be the writer
of an unopened book, one no one will read
except another like me. Hello, if you’re out there;
get out if you can.