This Old Book

Walking with my friend through town, we find a cache of free, reeking-of-basement-mold books — a strange collection of Zen and psychoanalysis and car repair that might have come from my own  jammed shelves.

I pull out a skinny book with no title on its cover, only a black-and-white photograph of a long-haired girl in a white dress on a pile of rubble. An early edition of Brautigan’s The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster.

For the rest of our walk, I hold the book loosely in one hand, past the the old granite cutting sheds, houses well-tended and houses abandoned, through the wet woods and blossoming bloodroot and a hillside of trout lilies just beginning to open. I keep thinking about my second book I’m finishing now, how I’m lacing together the connections within that story: a stolen jar of farmers market cash, a dead dog, a torn crimson scarf.

That night, reading the book, I discover a bookmark jammed in the book’s pages, from the Bedford, NH, bookstore of my childhood.

In a Cafe

I watched a man in a cafe fold a slice of bread
as if he were folding a birth certificate or looking
at the photograph of a dead lover.

 

— Richard Brautigan

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