Oliver de la Paz

Aubade with a Book and the Rattle from a String of Pearls

The color of the moon bleached the tops of trees
and you left a book on the table, face down
with its spine reaching for air. I thought
the book might hate you for that. With my pre-dawn coffee
and mouth full of sleep syllables I whistled the title,
held the book in my arms like something would reach for it
and carry it to another galaxy.
I would go on preaching to windows
about how the screens needed replacing, or
how the dust motes settle the shelves. You were in agony
yet you would not speak about things such as age
and the body gestures that come to claim your mornings.
Neck-sure, arm-sure, I think about you and your book
coming to some agreement . . . some place of rest.
Though the mica glittered like stars . . . though you breathed
circles in the dark of your skin, you entered
a slow recessional. It was a kind of starvation,
knowing the dawn would come with its larks
and cars stuttering past your house. You in your bed
shut tight against the tide of sound refusing to believe
that the book held your world in such simple connotations.
A book is a book, you said.
I take that for granted sometimes. Perhaps
you were right to press its mouth to the table.
My imaginings sometimes take me
away from you. So morning breathes
in my ear like the mutterings of a book title
that I’ve forgotten . . . tip of the tongue.
Each room carried us from clock to clock. Each tick
an earful about ourselves. God knows,
the way night moves its shoes from side to side
or how day wrestles syllables from us in our sleep.
What am I trying to say? Dawn on the spine of the book
simply stood for you many years ago. I thought of the denim dress
you had saved for gardening. You had asked if I could
remove your necklace. I fumbled at the clasp
and touched one of the ridges of your spine
as the necklace broke and the days fell around us.

Oliver de la Paz
Aubade with a Book and the Rattle from a String of Pearls first appeared in Passages North, Vol. 25, No. 1. Winter/Spring 2004.