I am a book. Not a poem on a single sheet, not a sheaf of notes, not a paperclipped pile of papers. I am a book.
I am a book with writing, still being written. I have been glanced at, passed over, picked up. I have been many books for many people.
I was the book you didn’t pick up. My cover was too tattered, the font old-fashioned. My hardbound pages were too thick for sand and salt. You picked a paperback instead.
I was the book you picked up but never opened. You saw me on a strange bookshelf, touched me on a whim. You thought my jacket interesting, but other things came along and you forgot I was interesting too, once.
I was the book you opened but never read. I was gifted to you, and you obliged the giver by hastily flipping through a few pages. My words were unfamiliar, my sentences complex. Politeness only goes so far.
I was the book you read partway. You stuck bits of paper, receipts, coffee-stained napkins in my pages to mark your place when you returned. You didn’t. You picked apart my paragraphs with close readings and left me smudged with pencil.
And then the transition, short but poignant, which hits directly in the gut:
Then you. You stroked my spine with curiosity, traced the letters of my title with callused fingers. You picked me up, opened me, read me slowly and carefully. You brushed away the bits of paper, rubbed out the smudges. You lingered over my lines and marked them only with your fingertips. My stories and stanzas were enough to keep you warm.
You carried me with your hands, fell asleep with me on your chest. To you, my rough-cut pages were perfect for turning, my worn cover comforting. You read me chapter by chapter, found shades of meaning in my white spaces. You savored the writing in my beginning and middle, appreciated the blank pages of my end.