a poem: this is my gift to you.

What if I found myself on a quiet street, cobbled and prettied with hanging baskets of blowsy, purple petunias?

And what if I happened upon a red door with a sign in the glass pane, hinting at treasure within? A bold brass bell announcing my arrival.

We both know that I would not be able to resist such an invitation. I can see you smiling just reading this, the corners of your eyes all crinkled with amusement.

Beyond that red door, the stillness would be alive with dust motes and shafts of shy afternoon light.

I would wander around, my hands finding things to pick up and examine. You know how I love to touch things—letting them speak to me through my fingers, allowing them to whisper their stories to me for safekeeping.

We all need a place where we can take off our secrets.

The first time I read your skin, it told me things. Where you had been broken, where each of your scars are. Your mouth didn’t have to open any locked doors.

We don’t always need words, do we?

I would walk past the tables filled with porcelain teacups, mismatched silverware, and baskets of vintage costume jewellery that once belonged to other people’s mothers, and sisters, and grandmothers, and now find themselves waiting here—hoping for another life, another chance at being loved.

Perhaps, for a moment, I look up, look further and see shelves lined with books.

There’s no way out now, is there? How can anyone turn away from all of this treasure?

I might run my index finger up and down their spines, my eyes searching the faded letters of each title.

Just looking, I might tell myself. Just looking.

But then, it catches my eye and somehow, I know that I am about to fall deeply into something and that nothing can stop it happening.

If you were to come searching for me at this moment, you would find me sitting cross-legged on the floor, and in my hands, cloth-bound and old, I am holding a book.

When I open it up, a faint smell of vanilla finds its way out. The fragrance is heady and intoxicating. I have always loved it.

The pages inside are firm and rich. They have substance.

Stuck together in places, some of the edges are still uncut—the gatherings unopened.

Even after being owned by others, there are whole pages still unread.

I must be very careful with this one.

More than anything, I want to know each word suspended within, but I want to take my time.

There will be no rushing through sentences, paragraphs picked at will and gathered into a basket.

This is a curious thing though. For reasons best left unsaid, I always read the end of a book before I start the beginning.

I need to be in control. I need to own the option of saying no.

But for the first time in my life I have no need to read the end of a book, first.

I don’t need to know how this story ends.

I will carry it home, cradled gently against my chest.

I think this is called trust.

— this is my gift to you

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Ailiis Sinisalu.

Unsplash.

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