She’s there each morning as I walk to work
along the blind arcade of terraced streets.
When almost every other curtained bay
is still drawn close to keep the morning out,
her window, always, is a square of light.
And in the bottom of the frame, her shape,
back to the window, showing nothing more
than dark curls and a hand that holds a book –
all you can see above the sofa back.
The walls are almost bare: an abstract print,
a wide-screen television, never on:
this house’s one apparent tenant needs
no entertainment but her library.
And needs no job as far as I can see,
if she can spend the whole day reading there.
I turn the corner, and she turns the page.
And every afternoon, and every night,
when I come home, diminished by the day,
I see her there, her hand and head unmoved:
a good three hundred pages, I would guess,
she gets through every day. I envy her:
her solitude, her lust for literature,
her single room that overflows with time,
her days spent doing what she loves to do.
I never see her face. Her age, her looks,
are always unrevealed. But all the same
she fascinates me – all those hours she spends
with nothing more than words. What she must know.
What she could talk about – and listen to.
Better, of course, that we should never meet,
never be disappointed. After all,
is that not why we read: to spend our days
with paper, not with people? People fail.
The only true perfection is the page.
Written, or read. No company compares.
We keep our back towards life’s window, while
we use its light to read our stories by.
Her open curtains let the last light fall
golden across the page. The shadows climb.
She lifts the book a little, and reads on.
Grahame Davies is a poet, novelist, editor and lyricist in Welsh and English and is a winner of the Welsh Book of the Year Award. A native of Wrexham, he now divides his time between London and Cardiff and is currently working on a volume of psychogeography, Real Cambridge. www.grahamedavies.com