Letters of a Dead Poet

A book appeared in my favourite shop,

fifty fat dollars’ worth.

I had to ease it out

and stroke the satiny skin

of the cover image,

a profile in black and white

of a man with a felt-tip pen.

I speed-read page after page

(they did ask to be read)

but was put off

by the fifty bucks.

Back to the shelves it went

between its brother books

and sadly I walked away.

The thought of the book

tracked me like a stalker,

hissing, stubborn and sly:

you deserve this book,

see it as a reward,

a trophy you’ve earned.

But the cost.

One ambiguous day

steamy with sunlight and rain,

not planning to give in,

I found myself in the shop

and snatched what I’d disguised

among the military texts,

so no one could find it.

Before any thrift could intervene

I ran to the counter and paid,

left with the book in my arms.

I have read it all year; letter

by lucid letter, slowly.

When the end comes I may begin again,

I shall refuse, ever, to lend it.

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