Dampness and sunshine
are equally fatal. Jackets fade, mildew
gathers. Whatever you wipe away
will surely return. But now, sliding
that last book back in place
you see the afternoon you first held it in your hands—
light through the lace
of the trees, and at home the sheen of the table
where it lay, proclaiming its beauty,
later the shelf where it remained exiled and unread,
as if its purpose had always been
to remind you of the brevity of what’s new.
You didn’t think about it then.
The sun was out, the books were shining
in their displays along the avenue,
and you were certain you’d fallen in love.
Remember that day?
Everything was a bargain. And mortality?
That was an idea,
one word among the others.
Lawrence Raab is the author of seven collections of poems, most recentlyThe History of Forgetting and A Cup of Water Turns into a Rose.