Anchors or Wings

 

The New Yorker 

June 10 & 17, 2019

Price $8.99

“Bedtime Stories” 

by Bruce Eric Kaplan 


a middle aged couple 

is in bed 

in a high-ceilinged 

city room 

in this black and white 

cover drawing 

each has 

an artless frame 

hanging above them 

side-by-side 

over the bed 

the couple is sitting propped against the headboard 

staring at their own separate bedside table stacked with books 

in a pile 

at least as tall 

as they are 

fighting lamps

for table space 

the window is black

except for the sill

flowered curtains draped back 

dark of night outside 

both seem startled by these stacks-

their hands over their mouths-

as if the books 

suddenly appeared from nowhere 

not a single title is legible  spines are facing different ways

 

one false move 

and a game of book Jenga could go painfully wrong 

I wonder about this cover 

have these two ever even met?

 

is this a high-rise hotel 

or an apartment? 


are the books even real

or are they the true but yet unwritten stories of their lives that they wish could be changed? 

or are they book 

hoarders who suddenly realize 

they have accumulated 

far too much 

and feel the anchors of ownership 

sucking them down 

into the thick 

black abyss? 


or has Santa come and left the gifts of wings to new horizons for two retirees who were wondering what to do next?

covers like this one perplex 

and haunt me

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