Bookmarks

Each bookmark placed is a parcel of memory
stopping time at the right page. Some are simple:
fancy slips with bookstore names engraved,
gifts from nervous friends unsure what to buy
the reader in their life or floppy dog-eared corners
marking a spot once thought important.
Others are improvised, like the receipt from last night’s shared pitcher,
a business card from a barber I’ll never call,
the six of hearts broken by one hole punch, or a two dollar bill
I’ll never spend anyway.

One in ten outshine the books they mark,
like the Roman bus pass that plucks me from any page
to be dropped off at the Villa Borghese where Daphne forever
chooses heartwood over Apollo, the name-tag
worn the first time my expertise was called,
a napkin scrap smeared with bloated lines
of rhymes my 17-year-old self thought
would hook the cheerleader so perfect
she must emerge each morning from tupperware,
or the picture of me on Christmas morning 1983,
buried in paper with my red PJs on holding tight to a book
I no longer remember.

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