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Post Road Magazine #33


Amy Lemmon

You acted like you owned them, all the books
in all the bookstores we wandered together, humming
titles and authors, dates of publication—
this is really rare—frank scent of must and dust,
the requisite cat and its litter box downstairs,
the workings of time on cardboard, cloth, and paper
and always that moment when my head would fuzz
like old-time teevee at close of broadcast day.

Why in all those trips through multicolored stacks
down narrow stairs, pulling me face-forward
into back issues of World Book and The Century,
did you not once take my hand? You ducked out
to grab the best espresso and pop right back
when all I wanted was to sit or, better,
to lie with you somewhere, heads propped on hands,
scanning the volumes of each other's faces.

How easy it would have been to kiss
on the freezing sidewalk that night, rush back
home, jazzed to start the reverential layer-peeling.
So many years your stories brimmed with women
who were not me. I counted myself lucky, all the work you took,
all you didn't do for them. Now I'd only ask you
to be there wearing a watch when I need the time,
to hold the door, safe entrance and even safer exit.

I cannot recall your mouth on any part of me,
but I remember your hands opening a book,
holding it up to turn page after brittle page
carefully with your long fingers, raising it up
above my head if I tried to peek or grab it,
making me wait until you were ready
to slowly reveal the riches,
such riches you had found for me.

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