He courted you for months and brought you
to New York’s best houses. The notices
were fair, I’m sure, but he craved a prize.
Aboard Mauretania for the crossing,
he probably left you in a deck chair overnight
while he sat at the bar plotting his next one.
Now wedged in steerage in this leaky vessel
of a shop, jilted and jacketless, his name
tattooed to your spine, you sell yourself
for nickels and dimes. I thumb your leaves
back to front to learn your recent history:
a tryst with a casual reader who probably
found you in a dump like this, wrote his name
on your flyleaf, took you to the Caymans
or the Keys, then dropped you here with just
a postcard to mark the point he stopped.
I am so sorry. My dear, you deserve better.
I watch the dim ones shuffle past,
shuffle past. Only a few bright ones scan
the shelves for ones like you for what
we needed long ago and still need now--
a passage missing from our own accounts
to turn us elsewhere inside out to another
entirely while remaining remotely ourselves.
After all, isn’t this why we read—so turning
a page might connect us to the other?
We have all have been with others,
been used, amused, and passed around.
I open you slowly to your middle signature,
press my nose to your yellow leaves,
breathe in almonds and vanilla flowers,
yes, recto-verso, repeat, yes, yes,
so bosky and feminine your scent,
I think you were a Daphne once
and I am mad Apollo for you now.
Your aubergine cover trending mauve
suggests a Bordeaux tonight. Are you free?
Of course. I’ll tip the steward as we debark.
Daniel Coyle recently retired from a career as a harmless drudge in the information industry. He lives in Washington DC. His poems have appeared in the Wallace Stevens Journal, Arkansas Review, Fortnightly Review, Blue Unicorn.
The Ekphrastic Review
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