Cover of Bargain Bin Lover (Finalist, Who Freaking Cares Writing Contest for Poetic Rejects)

Bargain Bin Lover (Finalist, Who Freaking Cares Writing Contest for Poetic Rejects)

I was hunting for a new fling, something casual as

I walked up to the sidewalk sale at the bookshop

the one that sells coffee—just black or with honey,

and biscuits with jam made by a woman

whose backyard you pass on the way here,

peering past all the brambles she cultivates

to make her sweet potions,

when I dug into the lonely bin marked ‘Poetry.’

That’s when I found you there, silent as a winter cabin,

paperback covers in tatters unloved,

and my heart broke to find you there,

forgotten, unmoored.

You were my old friend, my old lover, the one I

used to cradle between my bare knees

on those warm summer nights when I simply could not sleep

and you lulled me into something better than rest, a

perfect world where every ocean wave was tuned

to its own secret rhythm, crashing against my breast

and sending tremors of the universe through my core.

You were the one, my lover, whom I never forgot about

even after I moved on, married, raised children.

Though I never memorized your verses, my heart mimicked their

echoes, sending them to the baby inside me, the dream lover beside

me, settling their fluttering eyes without words of my own—

Words, borrowed words, and feelings shared

like a bottle of dark wine passed around without ever emptying, some divine drink that slaked

something inside of us thirsting for a drink that couldn’t be named.

And when I read your words written long ago and far away, I decided

that you were the contemplative thing I wanted to hold in my mind while

standing on line at the supermarket

or sitting on vinyl at the doctor’s office

or pretending to contemplate my unanswered text messages before the meeting starts

and we’re waiting for those stragglers whose garage door was stuck with them on the wrong side

or whose child felt the need to projectile vomit on the dry cleaning

or whose Starbucks order was mistaken for another’s,

(who they then fell in love with and happily-ever-after’d)

making me wonder and ask aloud—

What’s the meaning of it all?

And even coming up with an answer of my own

as I wait for snowflakes to settle like the dust in the box of the poetry bin

where I find you now and caress you with rough fingertips

as I slide open your covers to find my own name written inside, dedicated

from you to me, and the ink seems so familiar as do the loops of L’s and

signature empty circles atop the I’s like floating clouds

and your perfumed sonnets fill my eyes as I remember,

as I am rekindled once more.