“A book should be either a bandit or a rebel or a man in the crowd.”
It was time to divide your things.
My arms stayed pinned to my sides
like tired doves, toes stayed curled
around a branch split
by razor lightning bolts.
I tottered and I lost my grip.
Mother launched her surly arrows,
lodged them in whatever flesh
crossed her borders of pain.
Striking out at rings around a toilet seat
as if they were death itself
taking a piss in a messy arch.
I understood the ache to clean,
her answer to leaping ahead,
strides beyond this sad reverse,
where prayers were linen packed with snot.
Scrub the awning of this hell,
paint over the fork of this flame.
I loved the wealth of dust on shelves.
Your soul resided in those books.
Binding smelled of glue you were
when winds took off with a dream,
when nightmares called for gathered ash,
some sort of urn and elegance.
Leather wraps you sewed for words
made me wish to dance with thought.
Ways you read a fingerprint upon a glass
as if the oil were part of some eternal well.
These were all my cats to pet
when logs on fires became gray coal.
I read the marginalia —
your fingers scribbled little clues.
“Dickinson’s obsessed with flies”
and “Frost won’t let a season go.”
I loved the ease with which you sang
your operas over trivia.
by Janet I. Buck