A small crowd was gathered at the entrance
of the Strand the night I went to sell my books.
Word circulated that the store was closed
so that Michael Jackson could shop alone
for children’s books adding to the buzz.
It began to drizzle but people stayed on their toes
to peer over the window displays to get a glimpse
of the King of Pop. How cool, I thought, to have
the place to yourself, to wander the eighteen miles
of books, a bibliophiles’s dream of neverland.
He didn’t even have to wait in line, I laughed.
But then I pictured Michael heading straight
for the children’s section, back then buried in the corner
of the musky basement (I’d taken my daughter),
focused intently within the cubbyhole of shelves,
so enchanted by the eclectic selection of titles and
vibrant covers the rest of the store would fall so
completely away that it would never occur to him
to cover his tracks. I imagined the Page Six story
in the Post the next morning (it was) which was about
the last thing he needed. I wondered if he cared or
if some part of him even wanted this exposure.
I put down my grocery bag of hard covers, the bottom
starting to tear open. I decided that I would leave them
there on the pavement, the pittance I would receive
in exchange hardly worth a return trip, somebody bound
to pick them up, maybe even leaf through a couple,
current fiction from the eighth of a mile on my walls,
besides these were gifts inscribed by an old friend
whose love had turned into something more
which I no longer could keep in the open.