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The Bookseller and the Moon

Dark circles around watery eyes.

The bookseller looked as if

he’d been on a binge again

and hadn’t had solid food for days.

His hand shook when he raised

it to the shelf where my thin book

could scarcely breathe between

two heavy novels from Brazil.

“Machado liked them young,

fell in love with Leonor

when she wasn’t even in her teens.”

His red eyes bore down on me,

intent. He wanted to demolish me,

had probably spit out scenes like this

to others the past few days, along with

cigarette stench from brown teeth.

“You think poets don’t change.”

The voice was mine, words I exhaled

just as he reached my book and got

a finger caught between the massive two

fighting for the space it left.

He faltered as he rubbed the crushed finger.

“It’s you who think we can stay the same.

Now you’re on a quest at sixty

as if you were in college.”

“Why not?” I took a stand.

But he was adamant,

opened to a page, almost threw

the book at me, and yelled “Read!”

There I saw: “When night starts to fall,

I get into my boat and leave.”

I knew what I had to say instead:

“When night starts to fall, I run

to catch the moon as it slides in

between the river and the sea.

And I breathe.”


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