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Books I Never Opened

When father and mother

packed our belongings into crates and sailed away

from the old house they shared for years

with my paternal grandparents

its living room flanked by shelves

of gold-embossed holy books, which as a child

seemed to me had seldom been opened.


A handful of secular books, unpretentious

in their canvas covers, somehow survived

and made their way across the ocean

to a new chapter of my childhood.


Two of these sat for years

side-by-side in a built-in bookshelf

and I, immersed in robots, time machines

and space adventures, hardly gave them a thought

as they lay forgotten – rescued relics from

my parents’ past – parents who grew further apart

from each other, in their preoccupations,

their separate lives, that unbeknown to me then,

would soon part them forever.


Looking back, decades later, I can still

see those two books, one pink, the other brown,

rubbing shoulders in some closed-covered mutual act

of disregard, like strangers who pass daily on the street

wordless, avoiding eye contact, just two old books

in implausible juxtaposition:

“World Without Borders” and

“The Man Who Understood Women”

titles, each in its own way, representing a wish, un-granted

my father passed down to his son.

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© Johnmichael Simon



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