The Book We Stop On

Photo: © C. Shade. All rights reserved.

A European novel nobody’s heard of.
We try to muster the old enthusiasm

for character, language, idea, even plot
but we don’t really care anymore about

the dinner party that goes on for forty
or fifty pages, maybe because it reminds us

that it’s been years since our last dinner party.
At least it reminds me; I don’t know what

you’re thinking. I keep reading without
understanding what’s happening in the book

or in our life, which is now a life apart,
though we’re lying here in bed together,

your eyes shutting, the lids flicking up
then slowly dropping again. I’ve performed

this ritual of reading aloud to you nearly
every night since we met, afternoons

back then too, in the gazebo at Walcott Park,
shouting over the waves at Misquamicut,

in the car at a shopping mall parking lot
while waiting for a spring gollywhomper

to abate. We debated that word, holding
gollywhomper up against gullywasher,

their origin, geography, proper use, finally
losing patience with the storm and running

hand in hand, soaked in romance, golly and
gully inseparable. This is the story I tell myself

as I quietly slide the novel to the nightstand,
the bookmark falling, not bothering to pick it up.

Barry Peters and his wife, the writer Maureen Sherbondy, live in Durham, NC. He teaches in Raleigh. Publications include The American Journal of Poetry, Best New Poets 2018, New Ohio Review, Poetry East, and Rattle.

Appears In

Issue 9

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