I Met Her in a Book of Poems
I discovered an old photograph, lodged in the congealed folds of a forgotten book of poetry in a warm bookstore; sepia’d from decades of being unlooked at, hidden, and scalded by neglect. The blues were now green, and the reds bled through my fingers...
A young girl stood, all of three inches tall in the picture, with her face towards me, hidden however in the burst of light of the sun, squinting with a half-smile at the person who pressed a button to preserve her for a slice of posterity, till her face remained on a yellowing sheet of paper. Around her, patches of brown trees shone, turning amber in one last burst of defiance before dying.
I tucked the picture back in and bought the book, reading her face far more than the poems themselves. I liked to imagine that the girl was happy; that for her evenings, she wore a beautiful blue tunic, with little white flowers on it; that she spent her days playing her piano, reading and writing; and that she’d secretly fallen in love with a person who looked at her as if she was made of fairy-dust.
I liked to make up little facts about her every time I pulled out the print from beneath my pillow: her name began with an A; she delighted in both – the tang of oranges and the sweetness of strawberries against her tongue; her painted lips had never had to bear upon them the burden of a painted smile; she’d never had to wave goodbye to the people she loved most; and she lived the way we’d all like to dream of, but can’t: full of light and keenness, and happiness about the knowledge of her own existence.
And sometimes – just sometimes – I wished I could live like she did, even if it was just for a single day, just for a single moment, just for a split second.
Image source: flickr.com