Reading

 

Famous writers feast on it --

drift in at the last moment, 

 

flowing print dress or tweed jacket,

wrinkled shirt, hair a mess.

 

At the podium, they smile kindly, 

offer excuses for being late --

 

stopped to watch a clock tower burn,

heard it chime out in fright,

 

saw blackened doves take flight.

They reach into purse, ragged pack,

 

paper bag, finally bring out

a new volume of their work.

 

The moment may be near --

first, search pockets for glasses,

 

ask for water, room temp, no ice.

Adjust microphone, tap it, say

 

the book is for sale afterward -- 

at last, begin reading. Slowly,

 

they mouth each word as if

it were the rounded nub 

 

of a chicken bone. They suck out

every last bit of marrow.

                             Timothy Pilgrim