Put your nose into the pages of my book he said,
and I will talk to you from my faded-papered grave.
I did as the poet asked, but all I did was sneeze.
A dusty, musty, pocket inside-out sort of sneeze.
Touch the parchment words of time asleep
on the park benches of my mind, wrapped
in sheets of words, rustling and warm.
Run your fingers over them, he said.
Run them over the dry-stone walls around my poems,
and stepping on the turned-down corner pages,
climb up gingerly and peep into the fields
of my wildflower words swaying in their heyday.
Count my candle birthday pages, slightly ripped
with ageing, where fingers have thumbed the days.
He says it's where all the emotions have stained
the pages, watermarking his milestone ways.
Notice, there's no silk paper to hold a fine pen line,
but blotted bleary wide the black ink seems to say,
of course, these words have been placed this way
by the hand of my mind and troweled into place.
See my sad photo on the cover? See my dark eyes?
Do you see the dark pleading there?
My words were sculptured long and hard, he said.
Hearsay? I dare say. But that's what he said to me.
Well there you are, I thought. What could I say?
But indeed, there he was. He was right there, indeed he was.
Oh, my word, how his words, when stirred from slumber,
kicked my words right back at me.
I reached inside his jacket pocket (he asked me to)
and lifted his half-hunter watch, ticking of his times.
It beats in my hand now,
and with his hand upon my brow,
I know what makes him talk.
With fingernail ink he has clung on inside
this book that shakes with rage, or weeps,
or hugs, quivering with love. You'll not
shake him out, however loose the pages,
for as I squeezed, he squeezed right back.
For he is buried here enshrouded in his voice,
and enshrined within that voice was ...ME!