Reading a Closed Book

Joseph Harker’s Day 13 Prompt – Recursion Day 13 asks that we braid several thoughts or poems together, and if the result surprises us, then we apparently have done it right.  This prompt is all giving me a case of the vapours. I’m feeling faint and confused. I don’t think it’s associated with this virus I picked up a few days ago either. I think this is quite simply my brain asking, “Who do you think you are?” And again, most of this poem is fictitious.

So I’ve taken two recent poems that I’ve written: “A Twist of the Pearl” and “Swimming Deep in Blues”. I’m not sure if the result is surprising or not. I not sure if I’ve met Joseph’s high hopes either.


We decided to meet for a coffee that Saturday afternoon.
You’re not good with the telephone; you’re quiet as a book,
which means it’s a one way conversation mostly. Sometimes
you sit there nodding your head to my questions, expecting
me to know what you’re thinking. I often don’t know what
I’m thinking so I can’t know what you’re thinking when you
pretend to be a closed book. I’ve always thought –

It’s hard to read a closed book.

And I hate a closed book. Hate closing a book, actually.
That final chapter, that final word. The end of characters I’ve
come to know. Is there a special heaven for characters killed
off in a book? I once fell so deeply for a book that I refused
to finish reading it because I couldn’t accept that the main
character would die as soon as I closed the book. I was 9.
I’m older now. I can finish a book, often guess the ending –

Sometimes I can read a closed book.

And you stared glum as a marshmallow into your mug
of hot chocolate. I sipped my coffee, waiting for you
to speak and tell me what new catastrophe had mentally
caused you to skip a gear. And then I noticed a tear
skimming your cheek, and I felt miserable for thinking
unkind thoughts. I knew I should just listen, not talk, but
you said nothing. He’s left you again, I offered. You nodded.

Apparently, I can still read a closed book.

And here are the two poems from which this new one was “braided”.

A Twist of the Pearl

Conversation over the table –
a coffee, a muffin,
chocolate, of course,
Saturday afternoon with friends,
one more attentive than the others,
one slowly turns the pearl earring
piecing her thoughts. She thinks
back to last weekend, anticipating
tonight, and hears very little
of what the other is saying.
We smile and we nod. And I’m
lost in my own thoughts,
smiling and nodding nevertheless.

Swimming Deep in Blues

We used to be couple;
quiet as a book
and tasteful as hotdog salad
until we jumped ship,
swimming deep into the blues.
And in the end, it was all
balls and cold as pain.


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