You are not the story you are seeking—
not on this calm October morning,
not in this quiet downtown library
where you walk, soft-footed, on the carpet
towards the effulgent fiction section.
Look at me. I am shaking. And you
are a chimera wrapped in smoke and denim.
You raise your hands in rumination
of the volumes stretched the length between us.
I put down my pen in apprehension,
but you don’t know I’m here, nor do you care.
It is a story your fingers solicit—
the alchemy of true transformation.
Does such a book exist? For any of us?
You were not the story that I wanted—
I craved an anointed queen; I got the pigeon king,
squinting at books and shuffling three languages.
Is it hope that draws us to these holy places
where books and man are the only miracle?
Or is it another cloudland gimmick from a king
in need of a book, by a woman in want of a story?
*This poem is a poetic response to A.F.’s exquisite poem about writing a novel: “What I Asked For.”
This poem was originally posted on October 17, 2012. I’ve since revised it for the tenth time, and I’m considering doing an audiobook version of “The Pigeon King” over the weekend.