Reading The Blue Clerk, 157

“Verso 45”

It rolls off your tongue so easily, a friend says, those words that weave themselves around your bones and constrict your voice. Still, they roll so easily, those words that haunt the possibility of your speaking. Remember how you loved them? Or simply marinated in them.

It’s all part of you now like so many gut microbes.

No, I say. It was not like that. It was not endured. There was seduction. On both sides. Both sides? More than that. It was the pleasure of gathering with those who were gathered by the words. The pleasure that moved through the words, wrapped itself around our imaginations, set them into motion, where they met each other and charted something we are yet unfolding. Is this a failed metaphor?

The clerk is only playing, she knows exactly where.

There were days when you stopped me, read a poem to me, more than once. Days when I felt I needed to hear a voice read to me, days I asked, and you consented. Your voice wrapped the words in a care the words did not have. Dare I say it now? To step into the need I was and the care you were, and the other things we were to each other.

You used to love that line.

Lines wrapped around us, held us, tethered what we were making with and alongside and besides and against and beyond. And when the lines broke, we tethered each other. Am I being sentimental?

Here deep in the bales of paper she blows a sand of indecipherable-ness from a crumbling pile and skips back the long wharf to where the author stands.

And so, we are returned, again, to here. This line and what lingers. And what we have made of it. And beyond it.

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