The Pages You Loved

Foresee how dried, yellowed,
with neglect, think

of the hands that made them,
not with love, with certainty,

the leather smooth decades later,
the pages warm as wood,

the thought reaching a seed
that fell from a bird’s flight,

a hoof tucking it in folds of loam,
wispy roots sending it deeper

into the dark, the thought
like a hair in your throat.

Earth knows no such ambivalence,
good to itself, mending,

dampening sends you to self-
ignited forests, hordes fleeing,

blazes in what was there before
mouths came to call them eyes,

fear and fire, how close
the thought wanders into flood

and drought and motions
attributed to a fist-sized heart.

All those rocked, senses quaked,
those eyes flooding and welling

add up to a stone rolling
down a mountainside

into salt water, the sum the size
of a cloud or glacier thawed.

Shut the book, the thought
writes itself like yeast;

seam the sky, a smoky tail,
fastened by the measure of limitation.

And you the world’s watcher,
moments at the mirror
allowed as achievement,

the wisp of wheat (highlights)
in the coffee of her hair,

the two of you hand in hand
across a window display,

a clip from that day in Eden
the short footage of days recalled—

all illuding fingers,
hidden under the sheet’s grain.

Copyright © 2024 by Khaled Mattawa. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 26, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.