On Not Yet Having Read “Waterland”.

by Chris Farago.

I spent the day inside,
With a sunburned neck, reading.
I think it was in tribute to a friend,
A commentary on the life I ought to be living,
Alternating the raucous pleasure of urban hikes
And multiple drinks with a period
Of quite-literal sober reflection,
Examining the damage done to my feet,
My shoulders, my nose. The stack of
Finished books grows larger, some only skimmed,
Some small enough to have been consumed
In a single sitting, some just finished
After days (or in one case, months)
Of starts and stops. Left still in
The pile of yet-to-be-read books
Is the last one she recommended to me,
The first novel of a then-young
Englishman who she knew I’d just
Be taken by. I won’t lie:
It sat in the unread pile
For the greater part of six weeks
Before I read the opening chapters.
And she was right—it was
My kind of book, or at least
The kind of book I’d used to read
When I’d had the attention span
For such kind of book.

I see myself spiraling back to that book now,
Cautiously, via a few interlopers:
A slight meditation on physics, with
Intonations of meta- always present;
A noirish graphic novel hearkening back
To a time both more innocent and less so;
A history of rabies, making me prize my faculties,
Both physical and mental, just that much more;
And a collection of short short-stories on the
Relationship between fathers and sons,
A subject rich for mining if ever there was one.

These are preludes:
“Waterland” awaits, soon, asking to be given
The amount of attention that ought to be given
To a book, but no more—
The world awaits, sunburn awaits,
Drinks are to be had, and there are more pages
Yet to be filled.

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