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Lending Library

Jay Ruzesky
From:   Blue Himalayan Poppies. Toronto: Nightwood Editions, 2001.

Years ago my wife loaned
my copy of The Gold Cell to a friend
for an English paper.
It was so long ago I forgot until
this morning I found
a renegade inscription standing out the way
painted initials startle on rock faces
in National Parks. It was signed "with all my love".
At first I thought I had a secret admirer.

Imagine her, the friend, late at night
bent into November deadlines
at a desk lit only by a small,
green lamp. It is late, and she is tired
but there are lines in the book
that draw her inward, about what the animal of sex
roaming the body from birth
looking for its own way out, pushing up
against parts of the skin whenever someone
touched there. As she leans
into words like "pod," "rivulets," and
"introductory cough" her long hair
writes across the bottom of a page
until the borders between who she is
and what the poet has written
are no longer clear. She will read and reread
until the man in her life sets a hand
on her shoulder, and tells her it is time
for bed and when he touches her, the skin
that his hand has inhabited
will feel that small animal aching
toward his blood and his own longing,
a sudden promise, will head for his cock
and he will set his hands lower on her body,
lift her from the chair that has cradled her all evening,
although it is she who will take his hand and lead.

This morning I opened the book
expecting to see old friends
but instead found the inscription:
"For S.B. with all my love, November 1992."
He must have signed the book the next day
thinking it was hers, thinking she would
see it later and think of him, their pale bodies
riding the white page of the bed, as though it had been
his idea, as if he was the one who had given her
some kind of gift.

Jay Ruzesky's works copyright © to the author.

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