Misreading Our Lives

The story of which we speak is, perhaps,
not even a story, rather it is
a semblance of a story, just a smudged
invitation to help you pass the time
as you travel quickly from paragraph
to paragraph, mispunctuating as
you go, taking meanings and contorting
them into strange lumps that lie heavy in
your hand. Fix these images before your
mind, so if you should ever find yourself

on a street corner, say, in hard light, you
will remember, that was it-a picture
for their suffering. But in other times-
there will be others-completely forget
the plot, that it is barely linear,
hardly contained by margins, that even
the gutters run with words. You will find, then,
the story is really an old story,
worn with tears and stains and brittle pages
that shudder as your hands pass over them,

so that you wish it were someone else's
story, that you could inscribe the flyleaf
with a stranger's name, or conceal the depths
of your ownership in boxes. Give it
away, this anxiety-the words are
hardly there. They are somewhere else, obscured
by the absence of light where the words are
no darker than the page. Don't be afraid
to pull the covers higher in that moment,
to imagine a burning light when it happens.

by Shawn Sturgeon

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