I have no idea why I'd been glancing towards its spine.
Or why I'd kept it there.
A book from a rummage sale, I think I must have found it pretty, substantial pages, edges rough and worn tinged slightly brown.
The hard cover, a note from the giver to another inside and then, another note below, inquiring who'd been the original receiver of the "get better soon" gift.
I wondered if the book had been exchanged and now settled long with me.
The signatures dated the year I was born and then the year I turned thirteen.
To write of the way I'd been glancing towards its place on the shelf, considering whether I'd actually ever read, is so very insufficient to hope another might understand simply in my telling here.
But, this morning, I did reach for the thin book, a collection of poems.
I reached just before gathering things and going to work and just after I'd journaled.
Intrigued and increasingly drawn into new thoughts on prayer, I'd decided I'd begin a 40 day fast, something I'd never done.
I'd decided the time, counted the days to mark the end once deciding the beginning.
Decided I'd abstain from three things that distract, a vignette I decided, always choosing three.
I thought of what may happen and decided I'm anxious to see, what might change, where my time might grow.
And I held the book, Sonnets from the Portuguse, Elizabeth Barrett Browning in my hand, let it fall open and my eyes fell on the familiar, "How do I love thee?"
I thought, oh, I know this one, the sonnet counting ways of love.
Then, my eyes moved to the page on the left and well, I couldn't for a second believe it. But, I've no reason not to believe.
'My future will not copy fair my past'—
I wrote that once; and thinking at my side
My ministering life-angel justified
The word by his appealing look upcast
To the white throne of God, I turned at last,
And there, instead, saw thee, not unallied
To angels in thy soul! Then I, long tried
By natural ills, received the comfort fast,
While budding, at thy sight, my pilgrim's staff
Gave out green leaves with morning dews impearled.
I seek no copy now of life's first half:
Leave here the pages with long musing curled,
And write me new my future's epigraph,
New angel mine, unhoped for in the world!
And I was astounded.
The mention of angels, new future unseen.
The book that now rests in my lap.
I'm past the point of youth and closer to the place and time where my parents died too soon.
But, farther, yes, farther than the half called before.
The me reading poetry, calling herself artist and smiling when another notices the shift.
I seek no copy now, of life's first half. Elizabeth Barrett Browning