Well-worn Birkenstocks have formed
The right calluses.
If I were an empty notebook,
I would be made of hardy leather.
The front cover would be thicker than bone
and the back cover alone able to hide
my empty thoughts better than any diary lock.
And If I were an empty notebook, the recycled paper inside
would be breath thin and smell like untold stories,
the dog-eared folds of unfinished goals marking the chapters.
But If I were an empty notebook, and you were the writer,
I’d let you flip through the pages, and feel the softness of my skin,
the same leather that others might have thought cruel, or coarse,
but of course to you, would soften in your hands.
And if I were your notebook,
I would no longer be an empty notebook
for you could write your name on the first page in ink,
and let your secrets slide off your shoulder
into my pages for safekeeping.
You could fill me with your jokes and thoughts,
photos and ticket stubs from planes and plays,
brochures picked from public libraries and museums.
You could write the pain and joy and love
of everyday, of every second,
and hungrily, I would soak it up,
holding the moments of our life together,
all the leaves of our time forever,
with nothing but my old and well-worn spine.
On the train after a long overdue visit to my grandfather,
I look out the window and see a cemetery in the distance,
a human presence in artificial rock climbing an overgrown hill,
its granite steps to heaven falling short by a couple feet.
These stones and their tenants sleep as we speed away,
and I turn my attention back inside the carriage.
There is warmth and light here, and sound.
Are we there yet?
The weakening heartbeat of tired wheels flatline
at an intermediate station. Some passengers alight,
lighting a cigarette as they step back into their lives.
Others board and take their empty seats
and we all check our phones, religiously,
for the time.
How much longer do we have?
Then the train, slow as an illness, grinds to a new start,
continuing on its journey as if nothing had changed.