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A young girl is reading in a white armchair.

On the crimson tablecloth is a pink rose

in a glass of water. (She has kept the bloom

from when she was weaving flowers – its petals

superfluous to her design). The book

she is reading she first read three years ago,

when she was seven: its themes – of childhood,

and alchemy, and unambiguous frontiers

only beyond which evil thrives – enclose like

the high arms of her chair, though she is tall,

and is lithe like a fawn. In another room,

socially distant on a coral sofa

with deep cushions, an old woman, lovely

as she has always been, is reading a book

she has never read: about murders,

in a city – of revolution

and compliance, of concrete highways

and ancient lanes – she will never travel to;

of love difficult, transcendent. An old man,

shorter than he was, and a mite ursine,

socially distant on a chaise longue

in an adjacent room, is also reading

a book he has never read: a walled garden

of distant voices; unrequited love;

age and youth immured in anxiety; fire

the inexorable destination,

and the anonymity of ash.


Tomorrow, because to be human,

almost whatever the odds, is to try

to be hopeful, the girl will climb the stairs,

and the couple, at her call, will leave their books,

and become spectators. At the fourth stair

she will stop, turn, and, using the banister

for leverage, jump up into the air –

the ancient balustrade and balusters,

indifferent to the fall of empires,

will quiver like saplings.




© Copyright David Selzer
3 Responses
  • Kate Harrison
    July 24, 2020

    I love the idea of you all reading in your separate spaces, but picture the words all rising up and mixing together, and floating through the house, and disappearing through a window, to be reassembled elsewhere into a different tale.

  • John Huddart
    July 24, 2020

    Utterly magical. One hopes permission was obtained from all three parties for elements of the description!

  • David Selzer
    July 24, 2020

    And I love the picture you’ve created, Kate. Thank you. Another poem perhaps?

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