There is No Library for What I Know of Books
The geography of a sandcastle
is not the same as the geography
of a wave. Some may think the wave
has a grander geography.
This I cannot promise.
I cannot promise much
but today I can promise you
I am thinking maps made of sand,
certain a book is a kind of geography.
Last week Dave sent me his.
I took it on a trip to Italy.
You could say I read Dave’s book
with my Italian face and that face,
like Dave’s, has its own geography.
I only ever see Dave’s face by mail;
his geography is that far from mine.
Our geographies once crossed in Syracuse
where our adult maps were made
and cooling lava shaped the land.
And like that we have cooled.
Now, we lie on sediment and silt.
Dave’s book had me in a Syracuse
when I lost it in the men’s room and then
it was gone and goodbye to all that.
And this missing became important to me.
For the next few months it was an omen
and if I stumbled and fell, if I cut my thumb
I would think of Dave’s book and how
it was a sandcastle collapsed in a wave.
After my wife leaves
I think of the book, cawing like a magpie.
She will not promise but I know
her geography is no longer mine
and I have a face she will only visit.
And I am sure the book
has a new skin around it, the water of the book, the kiss
of the book has new desires and it left as my Syracuse face
has left and can only be found in mail and in the distance
of all the waves, all the shores
all the shores with no waves
all the waves with no shores
all the faces that have waved
at my shore.
And the geographies only get bigger.
I promise, everyday the ocean is deeper.
The geography of ice caps melting and
the style of a sandcastle to stand.
And I know how a lost geography can return:
the geography of a lost pendant, a lost wallet,
a love, the geography of her neck. I can’t promise
but this is not impossible except when you return
to an old geography you return with a new face.
Maps on top of maps on top of maps
translucent and inaccurate but
a palimpsest nonetheless and all the time,
reading Dave’s book, I was in a Syracuse
where the ocean never arrived
and our faces never departed.
First published in 3:AM Magazine, April 2013