The 2River View 19.4 (Summer 2015)

George Moore

The Book Market

Along the famous river, readers comb the stalls for some old note of recognition, a bent volume another has left them from some distance of centuries, an ink of mud on papyrus from along the Nile, kept crisp in imaginary pyramids until this stretch of desert time unfolds, or a curl of bark from birch off the northern plains, or off the wall of a church where bombs destroyed any sense of its meaning, thinking, literally dreaming, it would be good to know what none have known before. And so, the delicate scripts are cracked open like an ancient pysanka egg, showing a parallax of histories, falling always forward into the light of day.  Today, the pages simply carry codes. The jars split open, their rolls exposed, even absentmindedly burned to warm the hearth, or to cook a meager bit of buffalo or camel.  What is the worth of a book? How fitting that apocrypha from true lost believers should once again catch fire.  Who can you trust to decide the importance of a fragment of knowledge it took centuries to tell and be untold, that then was packed in jars and buried, or as today, stacked on shelves of small wooden stalls along the city’s waterway?  When Paris streets are bare again in spring, all this seems purely academic, or imaginary, for pages curl and mold (a bacterial survivor of the unwritten word) and renew their vast campaigns.  You pick up one for the feel of its jacket, brittle at the spine, and downplay the skin-deep death. Wisdom gone to seed. How utmost and accidental this one seems, on the periphery of your vision, and that of history’s. How much? For this? A new one off the internet would be but half. The words you play for words once played creep out of you like an evil spell. The marketeer drops the price a quarter, a gesture of modernity.  Nothing but the good are bartered for in life. Burned, denatured, the sands of some dead cult ground into the skin of your better days. Of those who have touched your edges, drank time, moistening the starred rim of your galaxy, which of them could bury you away for a better future past, for the proposition of a love by pure accident?

The Wood

That town’s borders had cordoned off my life
at a dangerous edge of things where it began,
and although I sometimes walked a few feet in,
I was never out of range of the street light.

I never knew the truth of Bloodgoods Pond
or Shackamaxon Lake.  A child as taciturn, or numb,
as all human children are, and these were words
and sounds some other creatures made.
In later dreams, avenues remain. The Boulevard
or Main, neighborhood routes through the thick
of cunabula things, talisman against the flux
of future worlds. A miracle the town stayed hidden

from my fears. Woods grew denser then in India,
Iran, in Afghanistan and on the Thai border.
But in each a wood remained, a moment between
here and now, and then, on into the dark again.

George Moore, after a career at University of Colorado, lives in Nova Scotia. He is the author of Children's Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry 2015) and The Hermits of Dingle (FutureCycle 2013). Poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Colorado Review, North American Review, and Poetry.

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