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Page 198

What happens to blank pages that simply remain
blank -- the ones that no one ever writes on?
You see a few in every book -- at the start, at the end,
between sections, being inconspicuous, lurking
blank spies in the land of letters, hoping
not to be noticed, each like a child still hiding
long after the seekers have given up, forgotten the game,
gone off to play step ball, lick purple popsicles
with purple tongues or ride their bikes in shrill circles.

And you may come across whole books
of blank pages, buried in drawers, in boxes,
on high closet shelves (seldom in book cases),
books purchased to be filled up with diary entries,
but never begun, now yellowed, browned,
cob-webbed, their perhaps flowery covers faded,
smelling of dust, evocation of an unwritten life.

What do we do with them? Write in them (new wine
in old bottles)? That seems a desecration or a waste
of words (is there a shortage?), as if consigning them
to instant obsolescence. May as well fingertip
one's name on a dusty table top. Put them on a bookshelf?
Why? Can we put them in a Home for the Paged?

"Hey, I'm hiding in here, and you can't find me!"
cries Mother, trying to rekindle the game, but there's
no one there to seek, and mother's dead or someone else now,
and nothing is hidden behind those old, stained, brittle pages.

There never was anything to write on them, though
after tossing the book in the trash, I quickly
bury it in more trash, not wanting to know
it is there, not wanting to change my mind.

Note: If you can read, you should note (really, you should) that this and the preceding three poems poem are brilliant. Thank you. I mention this, not to brag, but to point out that they closely follow a poem or non-poem filled with dry mathematics. If I got that far (as a critic/reader), I'd say," This poet is reaching. He's worn out his theme. It's all downhill from here." But then along came these pieces. There's a moral there, though probably not a poem.

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