Death of the Bookish Boy
The spiders became bibliophiles that summer,
tracing silver along the cracked spines, clustered and crouched
between Kafka’s insect and Nabokov’s net.
Their webs wrapped Faulkner and made spectral glints
hung like frayed bloodless nerve-endings at the edges of infinite Wallace;
striated Woolf’s waves.
It’s fall, and cold and gray, and the bookcase shimmers
like wet whale skin. The family has come to blindly sweep clean the room,
crush legs & eyes & abdomen into trashcan coffins.
Who knows more of mourning, the creator or the created,
the dying or the dead? To know you is to read you—
(I will read this)
to read what you have read—who knows more of the abyss,
the spider or the web?
Failure has a comfortable feel,
it fits just like you said it would.
And I know you've no longer ears to hear,
that they're ash and dust with the rest,
so that you've no hands with which to jerk my chin,
no eyes to slit, no mouth to implore: "Listen."
I know you know no heaven or hell, that you're nothing
just like the rest, another something I had to learn myself,
like morality and moderation, temerity; timidity—
how to fire fists into a dizzy belly; how to run.
As I age, the sun appears brighter and larger,
and the day becomes acceptable for its size—encouraging.
But it could be the death of you that widens its appeal,
that makes every morning a perfect, quiet calm.
At first I strove for something more, then realized it was all for you,
to be not like you or to prove you wrong, somehow.
So I'm here now, to tell you how right you were,
how success was never meant for me;
how alike we are in that regard.
And to tell you how tomorrow, when the sun rises,
I'll have forgotten you, as I'm forgetting you now,
this stone a liquor-stained slab of fatuous etching,
the roseless dirt a waste of earth, of growth.
Tomorrow I'll only know I'm happier than I was the day before.
I won't question this happiness in the midst of my failure,
for failure, at least, is comfort. It welcomes me,
like the outstretched arms of a world without you.
ADAM CHESHIRE is a poet and writer living in Hillsborough, NC. His work has appeared in Boundoff, The Broken Plate, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Burningword Literary Journal.