(23 March 1965 / Pawtucket Rhode Island)

A Used Book

When I open its pages my dog stirs
from his repose on the couch beside me
to sniff at the spine and trim. His gray ears
lift to listen, and I hear what he hears:
traffic horns, a teapot's whistle, the purrs
of the reader's cats on her old settee.

What was she doing reading such heady
stuff so early on a Saturday—sun
not yet risen, her lover still asleep?
The book, I guess, her company to keep,
and the cats, while the light kept its steady
course across her floor. Paris or London,

I imagine, though it was probably
San Francisco, a streetcar passing by
and fog rinsing the morning air. A gray
day then, much like any other. It may
be that she, too, drawn irresistibly
to its place on a shelf in a nearby

shop, blew the dust and bought it second-hand.
And perhaps her cats roused when she opened
its cover, catching the vague scent of dog,
and she got no further than the prologue
before she was off to some other land
where a man held a page against the wind.

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