Book Loaned to Tom Andrews

I'd already found out that one of the secrets to happiness was 
     never loan your books. But I loaned it anyway. We were all of 
     us poor and living

on ideas, stumbling home late to basement apartments, talking 
     to ourselves. What did we own except books and debt? When 
     the time came

we could move it all in the trunk of a car. Tom knew what a book 
     was worth—he brought it back a week later, seemingly 
     unhandled, just a little looser

in the spine, a trade paper edition of The Death of Artemio 
     Cruz, required reading for a course in postmodernism we 
     were suffering through.

The book's trashed now, boxed up and buried in the garage with 
     a hundred other things I can't throw away. When I moved 
     back south I loaned it again

to a girl I'd just met. At some party I'd said it was the best 
     novel since Absalom, Absalom!, which may have been true,
     but mostly I was trying to impress her,

and convince myself, still testing all I'd been told about how 
     the matter of a book is best kept separate from, well, 
     matter. Months later it turned up

on my front steps without comment, the cover torn in two 
     places, the dog-eared pages of self-conscious prose 
     stuck together with dark, rich chocolate.

From Paper Anniversary, published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Copyright © 2011 by Bobby C. Rogers. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.