Thank you for Books and a Piano on a Dirt Road

That Book You Thought You Owned

I borrow pages from that book you thought you owned
I fill in blanks you left behind,
edit your half truths,
until they become true

I always give the book back to you, after scribbling in the margins
Then you read aloud to me
I listen to passages,
walk through passages
of our common humanity to hear my footsteps echo from your shoes

Herein I find my own truths
I hear my name and repeat it, taste it,
like a whisper of honey from your lip to mine.

I interpret your canons, your poetry, and memoirs like music
written by some dead guy
who borrowed the notes from another dead guy
who memorized them from his mother
before the landlord took her piano—which she thought she owned

I stare at your face in a word induced house of mirrors until the image grows familiar,
until the image sways with my own gestures,
to dance with me as though we are connected at the abdomen
while our limbs move in synchronistic wing flaps and tip toe rhythms

We spin, round and round, until we blur the lines between us,
those lines you wrote on the page,
those lines I added in the margins
with my broken pencil
in that book you thought you owned

You secretly try to erase me,
omit my editing, my smudges of unsophisticated addendum
to the lovely handwriting you learned from a nun who slapped your fingers until you got it write
You want to be an individual, a master of your own words,
without the mark of such impertinent existence

I never met your nun.
I never claimed your book.
I never broke your mirror or stole your shoes.
I merely sat at the edge of a dirt road holding a broken pencil,
watching a landlord play piano like he thought he owned it

And you,
you must cross that road to get home
And you,
you will always find me there
I live on that dirt road, but I do not own it.

-Lea Kelley


~ by leakelley on March 7, 2009.

7 Responses to “Thank you for Books and a Piano on a Dirt Road”

  1. May I copy this to reread? It’s beautiful with an undertow that resonates. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is awesome.
    You just earned my utmost respect, dear internet stranger.

  3. Wonderful! Fantastic! Lovely!

  4. memorable, haunting, lovely, disturbing, full of truth and unforgettable images

  5. I just finished a 12th reading of the poem. It rises from Tartarus to propose a Paradise in which all of our words, sentences, & history could be the fabled single Tree with myriad crowds of branches, our hearts its leaves that come & go, our minds its perpetual fruit, our labor the shoots & blossoms in the garden round it down the ages. And why not? the poem asks, & answers with fingers turning pages in Nobodaddy’s book, being recomposed by the poet, herself a Sandreckoner as certain of the truth she writes as Archimedes was that King Hiero II’s goldsmith was a thief – which truth is, in stubbed pencil black, Should we look up at the firmament from this dirt road, we are stars.

  6. Beautiful, lyrical and powerful. You are quite a poet.

  7. This is one of the most beautiful poems I have ever read. You are a master storyteller, Lea.


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