‘The Notebook’ by Clive Watkins (Issue 87)

It is in the end as if
the morning light streamed through him where he sits
at the half-open window,
a black notebook resting on the oak desk
beneath his hand, and what is
outside gleamed through his straight back, his watchful
head, as though through gauze – the stand
of trees, the comfortable fall of ground,
then hills rising up, a place
everyone had left, perhaps years ago,
the houses vacant, the lanes
empty, a broad scoop of land across which
no birds fly, and, far beyond,
the city where once fighting had occurred.
Around him the bookshelves crowd,
the volumes neatly aligned, their bright spines
visible through his body’s
transparent frame, extensions of himself,
his mortal nature flowing
out, a lucid intelligence, across
their temporary order.
Yet in this moment they seem more solid
than him, the words of others
subsisting in a space that should be his
alone. The house is silent.
A breeze from the window lifts the curtain,
riffling the leaves before him,
finding a fresh page. And look – he has gone.

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