the bride in the bookshop

I’m just passing through crime and warfare
thinking that nothing could surprise me
in the world of second hand books. On my
phone are the images of various collections
that might rub together in a poem or two.
That’s fine then. Lunch ahoy. And suddenly
she’s there. Totally bridal, her white dress
sacrificing the everyday. Sweeping aside
the book hungry and the image seeker alike,
down the shelves she passes. Follows: a husband
[in greys and blacks], the bookseller [charmed,
smooth-haired, pleasantly obsequious], a photographer
[ready to freeze the day she takes her steps
to virginal mortality]. Billowing onto a Victorian sofa
she becomes the moment. An inconsequential
with an iPhone, I retreat down the gallery of books
towards cookery and the domestic life. Somewhere here
are shelves on family planning, relationships,
health and wellbeing, coping with illness,
the future. Now she preens and settles to the lens.
What world there is defocuses, becomes a blur
Of fiction, beauty, travel, science and romance.

It’s not uncommon – there’s a cutting by the door
pins up another. A pair of star booked lovers
share their bartered passion for personal posterity,
second hand. That bride, I bet she’s there,
forever, arranging silk and smiles, keeping that
appointment with a date that never comes.

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