Studiously aloof


He slides into the library, pushes through the barrier with a movement of his hip, and holds it with open fingers for the girl walking behind. He doesn’t break his stride. His eyes flick over the queue as he passes, not looking just seeing the people standing there. He stands aside to let someone pass and then moves through the door and up the stairs. He takes them two at a time, his legs moving in steady rhythm, his right arm pulling through the banister, his left holding the strap of his bag. He sits in a corner and begins to read, his coat and scarf still on. His hands search his pockets for his glasses, and find remnants of tobacco and chocolate. His eyes don’t leave the page, his smile doesn’t leave his face.

She sits down opposite him, the only free seat in the room. He reads for an hour, the motion of his body subsumed to the passage of pages in his mind. The physical world becomes a procession of small movements, a page turned, a margin marked. He falls into the trance of reading, aware not even of the words on the page, but only of their sound in his head. He looks up, and is lost. She asks him what he’s thinking and he falters; she looks at him, eager for his reply and at last he says:

Close your eyes – tell me what you see.

A light behind my eyes, it’s dark and bright at the same time. Like a kaleidoscope, but of colours you can’t see with open eyes.

Don’t open your eyes yet – can you remember what the colours of light look like?


I’ve been wondering if the silent words we’ve been
speaking this past hour are like these patterns of swirling colour
– endless, hypnotic, and serpentine in their casual fantasy.

And they sit there, with their eyes closed, looking deeply at one another, and smiling.


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