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Bad Books

Bad books, half remembered,
that surface like dark whales
and wallow in the back of my mind.

There's the one about the blacksmith's daughter,
and a train crash,
and the sort of brooding hero
that would drive the heroine to be an axe murderer
if they met in real life.

And the one about the woman who is abducted by aliens and it turns
into "Anna and the King of Siam" --in space, without the singing and dancing.

And the one about the roman girl, and everyone running around with
torches and the looming shadow of barbarians at the edges of the empire.

God knows what the title was
or who was the author
But the heroine had a pink dress
And there was a cat
And it turned out the sister did it

They were bad the first time I read them, on some quiet afternoon in the
high school library, in corner so rarely visited that I once found
a yellow index card that still had my mother's name on it.

The details have been forgotten --and better so.
If only the entire episode could have been erased
and the brain space reclaimed for better things.
But they've left a dirty smudge and an echo in my mind and that feeling of

And the frustration of lying awake in the middle of the night
wondering, "What was that book again...?"

I tracked one down once
and purchased a second-hand copy
knowing even as I paid that it wasn't worth the postage.

It was a horrible book; time had not improved it.
But it's on my bookcase still.
Like a scary clown doll,
I can't bear to throw it away in case it comes back to haunt me again.


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