i still remember those Saturdays
you and i heading downtown
to the library. i remember
spending hours reading,
just sitting and reading.
i always thought you were there
with me, your presence like a weight
on my shoulders.
i realize now that you weren’t there
all those mornings. just the idea of you,
the hope of you. as i was absorbed in my books
learning about lions and tigers and bears,
looking at paintings by Rembrandt and Warhol,
discovering Triceratops and ichthyosaurs,
exploring the worlds of Piper and Asimov and Tolkien,
you were elsewhere.
you were elsewhere.
were you looking at architecture,
Frank Lloyd Wright and his modernist boxes,
or perhaps Shaker furniture
and its minimalist elegance?
were you dreaming of foreign lands –
Indonesia, or the Philippines –
and their golden beaches, their
golden beauties, their golden temples?
if i had gone looking for you,
calling your name in the stacks,
would i have found you?
would I have found you alone?
were you even in the library?
did you leave me in its care
as if it were my second home,
a papered sanctuary where i found
the seeds of my own stories,
where the lie that tells the truth was birthed?
were you outside, sitting in the sun,
dreaming for a moment you were unburdened,
without the responsibility of sons and wife and house?
were you imagining yourself
younger, more tanned, drinking
your espresso while watching young beauties
on some golden beach?
did you go for a walk and explore the courtyard
while drinking your coffee?
did you attempt to strike up conversations
with young women, with your broken English
and your thick, sturdy accent?
did you rely on awkward, boyish charm
and your Netherlandish bluster?
or were you further away?
did you meet up with a lover,
carving away time at the hotel next door
knowing i’d be lost for hours;
did you hold the memory of me in your mind
as you lost yourself in her embrace?
did you tell a librarian to watch over me
(you’d be right back)
as you ran to get something you forgot
knowing I would wait,
would step out of time
while buried in books?
it is a mystery to me,
or a secret, that there should be
this ghost here in my recollection,
a great puzzle i cannot solve.
i wish i had an answer.
i try not to read the story of my life backwards,
to let this memory accrue too much weight.
i don’t want to invent
all the reasons i can’t remember.
all i know now is that
i would still wish for your presence next to me.
i would like to sit in a library with you
and read some books,
to share my thoughts.
to discover yours.
but you are far from me,
you don’t even read my emails.
i have lost track of your story.
i don’t know how it ends,
other than you sitting out in the sun,tanning on a golden beach.